Symbolism In August Wilson's Fences

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The play Fences by August Wilson takes place in the 1950’s in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the same time and place in which August grew up (“August”). During this time before the Civil Rights movement, African Americans faced significant discrimination. August in his own life experienced racism first hand as he grew up and lead to him dropping out of high school at the age of fifteen (“August”). Throughout the play, parallels can be drawn between August Wilson’s life as a child and young man to the characters and their experiences in Fences. The struggles August and many other African Americans faced during in the 1950’s are deeply embedded in all aspects of the play; however, this paper focuses on Wilson’s use of symbolism to reflect the the…show more content…
Troy uses baseball as a metaphor when his relationship with his son and his wife come to an end (Glasco). Using strikes, he counts the number of mistakes Cory makes leading up to the climactic strike three, their fight with a baseball bat on the front lawn. He uses baseball as a metaphor again as he attempts to explain his affair with Alberta to Rose. Furthermore, he speaks of death in terms of baseball saying it’s “nothing but a fastball on the outside corner” (Wilson 1430). Thus, baseball might be symbolic of Troy’s fatal flaw (i.e. doing what he believes is right regardless of the consequences) ultimately leading to his demise and loss to death. As part of the set, there is a ball of rags hanging from a tree. This ball might reflect how Troy’s baseball career remained tethered to the ground, and while he had the ability to hit any ball out of the park, discrimination tied his career down so he couldn’t get anywhere. Therefore, it would reflect the failed dreams of many African Americans during the 50’s and how racism held them back from an economic homerun (Gibson). Cory’s football recruitment along with the mentions of integrated Major League Baseball (MLB) signal the social changes that take place in the 1960’s. In 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African American MLB player, and while integration was slow, all 16 MLB teams were integrated by
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