Cory comes home from football practice on Saturday afternoon. Rose tells him that Troy was upset about Cory leaving the house without doing his chores or helping him with the fence. Cory tells Rose that every Saturday Troy says he needs his help with the fence but he never ends up working on it. Instead, he says he goes to the bar, Taylor's. Cory goes inside to eat lunch and do his chores. Troy comes home, supposedly from Taylor's, but can't remember the score of the game. He unsuccessfully flirts with Rose, and then yells at Cory to come outside and help him with the fence. Troy reprimands Cory for going to football practice instead of doing his chores.

Cory and Troy work on the fence. Cory asks Troy if they can buy a television. Troy would rather buy a new roof because it would ensure their future security. Cory thinks it would be fun to watch the World Series on TV. It would cost two hundred dollars. Troy makes a deal with Cory that if Cory comes up with one hundred dollars, Troy will match him with the other half and they will buy the television together. Troy and Cory have a friendly argument about the status of Black players in the Major Leagues. Troy will not admit that Hank Aaron is changing the game and that Roberto Clemente's coaches give him plenty of chances to bat. Troy finds weakly argued excuses to deny that baseball is treating Black players fairly and changing for the better. Troy disappoints Cory by not agreeing to sign the permission papers for Cory to play college football. A coach is coming from North Carolina to recruit Cory, but even with the knowledge of how far the coach is traveling to see his son, Troy will not change his mind. Troy wants Cory to work at the A&P supermarket instead of going to football practice. Cory breaks the news to Troy that he has already given away his job at the A&P during the football season. Mr. Stawicki, Cory's boss, is keeping Cory's job for when the season ends. Cory begs Troy to change his mind, but Troy refuses and demands Cory get his job back.

Cory asks Troy why he never liked Cory. Troy responds by explaining his belief that his role as a father is to provide shelter and food and the gift of life to a son and nothing more. Troy demands that Cory speak to him respectfully with the word "sir," and gives Cory the third degree, making Cory treat him with a military-like respect. Rose asks Troy why he will not let Cory play football when Cory is trying to follow in his father's footsteps. Troy explains that when Cory was born, he decided he would not allow Cory to pursue sports in order to spare Cory from a fate like his own. Rose tries to get Troy to admit that he was too old to play for the Major Leagues and that times have changed since the years Troy was prohibited from the Major Leagues because of the color of his skin. Troy will not agree with Rose. He tells Rose that he is trying to give everything he has to his family and he can't change or give anything else but his hard work and responsibility. Troy feels that his financial support is more than enough.


Troy and Cory's father-son relationship succumbs to its first major blow while working together on Rose's fence. The blow to their relationship is not yet a physical affront, but an irreconcilable difference. Cory has taken care of ensuring his job at the A&P for after football season and gets good grades in school, but Troy does not acknowledge these responsible acts. Instead, Troy only sees the ways Cory does not live up to Troy's vision of how Cory should live his life. Troy's hypocrisy becomes evident to Cory over the course of his conversation with Troy as they build the fence.

Read more about coming of age within the cycle of damaged Black manhood.

The beginning of their talk displays a friendly competition aspect of their relationship. Troy and Cory argue about the purchasing of a television versus a new roof in good spirits. Troy is typically stubborn and takes the pragmatic view on the television issue, again emphasizing his inability to empathize with anyone else's lofty dreams but his own. However, in a moment of compassion, Troy relents and offers Cory a fair deal. In this moment, Troy is his most laudable. Cory's persistent, logical and persuasive argument for a television affects Troy. It is notable that Troy does not go head over heels and offer to buy Cory the television, but his proposal is fair and balanced. By offering to pay half if Cory can come up with half of the money, Troy emphasizes the kind of responsibility-instilling parenting he believes in that encourages Cory's work ethic, while supporting his son in realizing a dream. On the flip side, when their argument hits closer to home with the topic of sports, Troy transforms his fair and supportive outlook into an irrational, hurtful one.

Troy and Cory's conversation solidifies their positions as two men separated by a generation but sharing a common passion. Cory shows persistence in proving to Troy that buying a television would be a good investment, and he goes further in his attempt to convince Troy that there's been positive change in Major League sports since Troy was a baseball player. 

Though he was reasonable when he argued with Cory about the TV, Troy's responses in this instance are irrational and lack substance, or even warp the truth for his own benefit. Troy claims that Roberto Clemente sits on the bench too much, but Cory challenges this by saying he has plenty of opportunities. Troy thinks Clemente, Aaron, and other Black ballplayers are on the team as tokens, but aren't actually given the chance to play. When Cory brings up the number of home runs Aaron hit this year, Troy deflates Aaron's success by insisting that hitting homeruns is merely Aaron's responsibility. Troy boasts about his ability to play baseball as well as the players Cory adores. Then, when Cory mentions Sandy Koufax's pitching, Troy's denial of Cory's proof that times have changed reaches a pinnacle of poor reasoning. Troy simply negates Koufax's existence in his mind by saying, "I ain't thinking of no Sandy Koufax."

Read more about the different mechanisms people choose to protect their psyches.

Cory sees the present for what it is, a changing, gradually more accepting place for talented Black people like himself, but Troy can only see the present as he experienced his hardest disappointments in the past. Troy's unwillingness to acknowledge that professional sports are less racist than they used to be results in his stubborn and selfish decision to deny Cory permission to play college football.  Troy and Cory's incompatible perspectives and conflicting interpretation of a changing history is the most insurmountable difference between them. Because Troy refuses to believe that professional sports might treat his son better than they treated him, he holds Cory back in order to protect him from the disappointment and discrimination that Troy endured. But ironically, Troy's attempt to protect Cory actually hurts him, stifling his potential and limiting his chances for success in the future. 

Read an important quote from Cory about the tensions between him and his father.