Fences, a play by August Wilson, was first performed in 1985. The story is set in the 1950s and revolves around Troy Maxson, an African American former baseball player who now works as a garbage collector in Pittsburgh. The play explores themes of race, family, and unfulfilled dreams as Troy grapples with his past and his strained relationships, particularly with his son, Cory, and his wife, Rose.

Troy’s experiences reflect the broader struggles of Black Americans during the 1950s, addressing issues of racial inequality and the limited opportunities available to individuals like him. The backyard fence that Troy is building becomes a powerful symbol, representing both a physical barrier and a metaphorical boundary that separates and protects.

Fences is part of Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle, a series of ten plays that includes The Piano Lesson which collectively chronicle the Black American experience throughout the 20th century. The play has received critical acclaim for its rich characters, powerful dialogue, and poignant exploration of the complexities of family dynamics. In 2016, Fences was adapted into a film directed by Denzel Washington, who also starred as Troy Maxson.

Read the full play summary, an in-depth character analysis of Troy Maxson, and explanations of important quotes from Fences.

Upgrade to PLUS and get instant access to all the study tools

Upgrade to PLUS and get instant access to all the study tools