Fences

by: August Wilson

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

"You got to take the crookeds with the straights. That's what Papa used to say."

In the last scene of the play, Act Two, Scene Five, Lyons recalls to Cory this statement that Troy used to say. When Lyons says the phrase, he sees his own life from a similar perspective that Troy saw in his own life. It is the first time in the play that Lyons sees eye to eye with Troy. This is a melancholy moment. With this line, Lyons recognizes that though he decidedly took a different approach to life than Troy, Lyons could not fulfill his own dreams or hold onto what meant the most to him—just like Troy. This phrase means that in life you have to accept misfortune just as much as you accept good fortune. Troy's philosophy here is that misfortune is inevitable, it is a part of life and one must experience it. The phrase also implies a defeatist attitude in the word choice of "crookeds with the straights. Troy's phrase implies a belief that the inevitable bad experience darkens any good situation. Or, conversely, that any positive experience has its negative counterpart or sacrifice. The phrase refers to Troy's own life and how he accepts his suffering in his relationship with his father, his attempts at survival when he first moved north, his time in jail and his inability to make a living by playing ball. By this point in the play, "crookeds" also refer to Troy's loss of Alberta, his loss of Rose, his mistake with Gabe's papers and his rejection of Cory. Troy's philosophy reflects a life of joy and pain and a once strong, pragmatic outlook on survival.