Generational Trauma In August Wilson's Fences

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Generational Trauma is a part of every family’s past and present. In his play Fences, August Wilson delves into the story of the Maxson family, a family where Men especially have the tendency to take on certain traits. Cory, the youngest man in the family, attempts to disregard his family’s past and carve a new path for himself and the younger generations. August Wilson uses the strategy of Man vs Man to develop the theme of Generational Trauma to show how families aren’t always defined by their past. Originally, the Maxson family’s generational trauma seemed to have been passed down to Cory just like it had to Troy. In the closing scene of the first act, Troy and Cory get into a heated argument based on their different beliefs and values. …show more content…

At the start of the second act, Troy is in a heated argument with Rose after he reveals his hidden affair with Alberta. He resorts to his old ways of violence by “hurting [Rose]” (71), to which Cory responds in his own way. Cory “comes up behind Troy and grabs him” (72), which seems to be Cory responding to violence with violence. This would mirror what happened to Troy and his father and would signal the generational trauma truly being passed down. But, while they are fighting each other, the reasons behind them so fiercely defending certain people are completely different. Cory is compassionately fighting for his “Mama” (72) while Troy is only fighting for self preservation. Cory is starting to grow up mentally and physically and can now stand toe to toe with both the figurative Troy living in his head and the physical one he lives with. The maturity that came with Cory’s change into a young man has allowed him to have a shift in mindset regarding the opinions that had been passed down to him. Cory’s love and compassion for others justifies this violence while Troy’s selfishness and anger does not. This truly marks a change in the family as someone is finally breaking past the selfish values that had defined the Maxsons, albeit using violence. Cory will continue to discover his own self as he gets forced out of the Maxson household and finally see past the cycle of generational trauma in his

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