Seven-year-old Raynell plays in the dirt of her newly planted garden, poking the ground with impatience. She has recently planted seeds but they have yet to grow. Rose asks Raynell to change her shoes to prepare for Troy's funeral. Troy has died from a heart attack when he was swinging a bat at the baseball that hangs from a tree in their yard. Cory returns home from the Marines in his uniform. Lyons also comes home to go to the funeral. His girlfriend, Bonnie, broke up with him and he has been forced to do time at the workhouse because he was caught illegally cashing other people's checks. Cory is engaged to be married to a woman he seems to care for deeply. Lyons and Cory reminisce about Troy's saying, "You gotta take the crookeds with the straights."

Cory refuses to attend the funeral because he wants to rebel against Troy. Rose tells Cory that skipping his father's funeral won't make him a man. Cory attempts to explain why he has mixed feelings for Troy, saying "Papa was like a shadow that followed you everywhere." Cory and Raynell compare their memories of Troy as a father. Raynell and Cory sing a blues song about the old dog named Blue, a song originally taught to Cory by Troy.

Gabriel shows up, having been released or having escaped from the mental hospital. He has his trumpet in hand. Gabriel announces that it is time to tell St. Peter to open the gates of heaven for Troy. Gabe blows his trumpet but no sound comes out. He tries and tries but the trumpet will not play. Disappointed and hurt, Gabriel has a painful realization in his mind. He walks around, turning his frustration into an improvised dance, reminiscent of an African dance. Gabriel's dance climaxes as he makes a cry to the heavens, which, in response, open wide, perhaps in the form of a bright light shining on stage. Gabriel is successful. He says, "That's the way that goes." The play ends.


Troy has died in between the action of the last two scenes of the play, so the final scene presents the lasting effects of Troy's life on his loved ones. Though Troy's relationships with Bono, Rose, and Cory were ruined and broken in life, they gather together in his honor. The most significant representation of Troy's legacy is the conversation between Cory and Raynell. Raynell experienced Troy's parenting after he and Rose stopped loving each other and after Cory left home. Cory experienced Troy at his worst as a parent and husband. Lyons had very little chance to know Troy as a father at all. Bono and Rose knew Troy in his prime as a ballplayer and witnessed his demise. Cory refuses to go to Troy's funeral even though he made the journey to visit home for the first time in almost eight years. Cory's last memories of the Maxson household were bitter and oppressive.

Read more about seeds and growth as a motif.

Now, however, Cory meets Raynell, who bears witness to a changed world at the house and represents the changing world of the United States as it evolves into the passionate and liberating decade of the sixties. Raynell hold no grudge against Troy. Her comments about their father are mundane. She, like Lyons, Bono and Troy will grow up without one parent, but she will never experience the hurtful coming of age struggle Cory and the older men experienced. Raynell changes the pattern of violence between father and son in the Maxson family. When Cory and Raynell sing Troy's father's song about the dog named Blue together, Cory forgives Troy because he witnesses the love and the lessons that Troy passed on to his children. Cory experiences the song as evidence that Troy's deeds were derived from what Troy knew in life. Troy did what he could with what he had and did his best to give what little he had to his family. Cory was hindered by Troy's mistakes, but will become a better person than his father because of what he learned as a result of Troy's struggle with himself.

Read an analysis of the last line of the play.