The play Fences shows tension in the story between a whole family but mostly through father and son. The story is during 1957 during the time of racism with the African Americans. Fences describes the Maxson family as they all face challenges such as money worry, unfaithfulness, and death. Wilson used the narrative elements characterization, theme, and motif to build tension and change in a character’s tone, and a repetitive fight between man and the supernatural. Wilson used characterization to build tension by changing Cory’s character in the story.Rose and Troy experience tension through them both when Rose tells Troy what Cory feels from his father. The author says, Everything that boy do . . . he do for you. He wants you to say Good job, son. That’s all. (39). Rose is telling Troy that everything that Cory does, he does for Troy, this is important because it shows that Cory just wants his Troy to be proud of him. Cory’s feelings make tension because the readers begin to see that Cory just wants to make his dad happy but Troy doesn’t see that. There is tension with Cory and Rose on the day of Troy’s funeral when Cory comes back from the Marines. The text says, I can’t drag Papa with me everywhere I go. I’ve got to say no to him. One time in my life I’ve got to say no. Cory has changed towards his father by not trying to make him proud anymore because he is standing up to him. This evidence proves the assertion of tension because Cory doesn’t care about him doing things things to make Troy happy.
Wilson uses theme to build tension between Troy and his past. The author wrote a poem in the beginning of the book that talks about the sins of a father, that relates to the theme of the book. Wilson said, When the sins of our fathers visit us/ We do not have to play host./ We can banish them with forgiveness/ As God, in His Largeness and Laws. The way one acts when their father sins, instead of accepting the sins a son can forgive just like God does.
Readers would know what the theme was in the story, this shows tension because a kid should forgive their father’s sins to take control in the situation, which makes the reader feel bad for the son because of his dad. Wilson creates tension with theme when Troy talks about his dad when he was little . He says, All he wanted was for you to learn how to walk so he could start you working. (Wilson 50) Troy’s father wanted was for him to get to work and to starts making money, now that Cory has got recruited to the college football troy won’t let him play because he says Cory should be working instead and making money. This makes tension because Troy is working his way up to slowly be his dad when he called him the devil.
Finally, Wilson uses motif to build tension between Troy and death. Troy fights death whenever he is in trouble. He says, I wrestled with Death for three days and three nights and i’m standing here telling you about it. (Wilson 12) When Troy was fighting death he had pneumonia, so Troy was calling his pneumonia death because it could have killed him but since he lived he says that he won that battle. This shows tension because it makes the readers think that Troy is a tough character because he has faught death before and says he is not scared of it. Another time where Troy fights death is when he finds out Alberta died after giving birth to his daughter. Troy yells to Death, This is between me and you.
Man to man. You stay on the other side of the fence until you ready for me. Then you come up and knock on the front door. Anytime you want. I’ll be ready for you. (Wilson 77) After Rose tells Troy that Alberta died he starts to get mad because instead of death taking Troy he took the mom of his daughter. He yells at death and says that he is going to build a fence to keep him out and whenever he is ready to take Troy he will be ready for him. This builds tension because death took someone that Troy loves so he is mad about that, instead of death taking someone else he is going to build a fence to protect anyone else that he loves and death can only come through when he is ready for Troy. Wilson makes the reader feel a mixed feeling whether Troy is a good man or not because after he had an affair he still tries to protect people he loves.
August Wilson creates a lot of tension during the play. Readers can see that Cory shows a difference. When Troy begins to fall into his father’s footsteps. Then the fact that Troy faces death multiple times in this book shows tension. Fences is a good example of a crazy story that shows how the characters of the Maxson family deal with those issues.
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