Fences Act 1 Scene 1 Summary

     This play, by August Wilson, takes place at the Maxson household, which seems to be in an urban area starting in 1957. In scene one, Troy, the protagonist and head of the featured African American family, is talking to his friend Bono after work. At fifty-three years old, Troy is married to Rose, and they have a son in high school named Cory. Troy also has an older son Lyons from a previous relationship. Troy and Bono work together as garbagemen and enjoy meeting up for a drink on pay day Fridays. Troy has recently talked to the union for his job because he thinks the African American men should be allowed to drive the trucks, just like the white men do. Bono is worried this complaining is going to get Troy fired. Bono questions Troy about flirting with a waitress named Alberta, but Troy assures him it means nothing.

     Rose, who is ten years younger than her husband, and Troy asks her about dinner; this comment along with others make it clear that Troy is an old-fashioned man who thinks women should be in the house providing for their husbands. Troy also tells a story to Bono about how he asked Rose to marry him that shows he tends to lie. Troy mentions he's glad his son has a job at the A&P, and Rose brings up the fact that college football teams have been interested in recruiting Cory. Troy brushes it off as ridiculous, not believing that the white men would ever allow his son to play football. Rose thinks it is worth it for him to pursue football, but Troy doesn't. Bono chimes in that if Cory's as good at football as Troy was at baseball, then he could be a star. Troy had tremendously ability but was eligible at a time before they allowed many black players to become professionals; therefore, he has a lot of anger about never being given the opportunities that white players, not nearly as talented as he was, were given.

     As Troy continues to drink beers, Rose worries that he's going to drink himself to death. Troy picks up on the mention of death by turning it into a metaphor about baseball: it's a fastball on the outside corner that people need to watch out for. Then he has a flashback to July 1941 when Troy became very sick with pneumonia. He ended up in the hospital fighting for his life. He personifies death saying he wrestled him for three days until he beat him, and he began to feel better again. Lyons, who is thirty-four years old, walks up, and Troy immediately thinks he's there to ask for money. Lyons eventually admits that he could use ten dollars. Troy then tells an exaggerated story of how he's been paying the white man, whom he calls the devil, for his furniture for the past fifteen years, so he doesn't have any extra money to give to Lyons. Lyons promises he'll pay the money back because his wife Bonnie just got a job working at the hospital. Troy is resistant because he feels that Lyons doesn't really work as he is a musician. Lyons accuses Troy of not being around to help raise him, so he can't criticize how he turned out. Rose finally gives Lyons the money, and he leaves. Despite disagreeing with her actions, Troy professes his love for his wife before the scene ends.

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