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Fences

Summary Act One: Scene Four
Summary Act One: Scene Four

Troy and Bono's fathers are representative of the phenomena in African American culture that took place after slavery was abolished and after promises made by the Reconstruction era failed to provide the necessary infrastructure to help the homeless, impoverished, dislocated blacks assimilate to the free-market culture and economy. Bono describes his father as having the "walking blues," a condition that Bono blames for his own fear of having children. Bono uses this term to describe his father's behavior during the Great Migration, when thousands of blacks chose to walk to a new life in a free city north of where they lived in slavery or slave-like conditions of sharecropping. Many blacks walked on foot from the south to a city in the north, some even going as far as Canada. Even if Bono's father wasn't part of this movement north, he represents the effects of this history.

Bono and Troy and Lyons and Cory share the commonality of a similar struggle. All of these men grapple with their identities in relation to their father's life choices. Bono, afraid of wandering like his father, and disappointing a child because of a lack of commitment to the child's mother and family, does not repeat his father's shortcomings. Bono is a devoted husband who perhaps regrets his lack of children because not having them was a decision he made based on his fears of inheriting negative traits of his father. Troy inherited useful yet unfortunate traits from his dad. He gained a terrific sense of responsibility to his family from his father, whom he respects more than his mother (who left their home), but he learned little about love from his father. Troy's father expressed love only as duty and Troy repeats this philosophy with Cory. Lyons grew up largely without Troy who was in jail when Lyons was a child. Lyons feels confident that his choice to be a musician while not practical, is a freedom that he should enjoy when so many generations before him were forced into life decisions. Lyons and Troy differ on this point because Lyons was a product of his mother and his generation, and Troy had little chance to influence his identity. The lack of a paternal presence in Bono, Troy and Lyons' lives shaped their view of themselves and their life choices.