Fences

by: August Wilson

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

"You can't visit the sins of the father upon the child."

Rose takes in Troy's illegitimate child as her own with these words in Act Two, Scene Three. Rose's decision is based on a similar line in the Bible. Rose, a religious woman, believes that children are born innocent and with these words, she says to Troy that she refrains from blaming the baby for any of the faults of the father, her adulterous husband. Rose agrees to raise the child without bias, with unconditional love that she no longer feels towards Troy.

Cycles of black fathers acting as the source of pain in their children's lives is a repeated theme in Fences and here it appears again. This thought exemplifies Rose's disbelief in the cycle. She displays this philosophy at other times in the play, for example, with her son Cory, who she sees as having chances in life that Troy never had. This theory of Rose's about fathers' sins gets proven and disproved several times in the play. Rose believes the pain of one generation stops there and each new generation can get more out of life than the one before, whereas Troy sees life as always staying the same way he experienced it. That shortsightedness is the reason why the opportunity to have a relationship with Alberta, means so much to Troy. Troy's view of life is that men like him, burdened by the sins of his forefathers and the American forefathers who put blacks into slavery, sets up his generation and subsequent generations like Cory's to a life of inequality—the reason why Troy cannot accept Cory's choice to pursue sports over work. Cory, like Troy, leaves home before he is man, and in doing so, becomes one.