According to Bono in Fences,what are the "walking blues"?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Jim Bono's discussion of the "walking blues" is what he used to describe the generation of African- American to which the fathers of Jim and Troy belonged.  This generation of Black men had experienced the life of broken promises and dreams with first slavery and then the failed promises of Reconstruction.  The advancement of Black men in the Great Migration to the North created this syndrome of the "walking blues" where there was movement to an unknown end.  Bono uses this to discuss how there is a part of their histories as Black men to be restless and discontent with their current surroundings, just as their fathers were.  Bono is raising this condition as a form of awareness for Troy to consider in terms of the dissatisfaction he feels in his own life and his relationship with Alberta.  To a great extent, Troy's own broken dreams of being able to play ball is something that contributed to his own "walking blues," just like the broken dreams and ruptured bonds of the men's fathers contributed to theirs.  This "walking blues" is something that Bono himself has avoided.  While his condition is very similar to Troy's, Jim has found a level of happiness with his own wife and in his own life, avoiding the syndrome that plagued his father and Troy's father, and one that he senses has a hold on Troy.  It should be noted that Wilson's use of the term might be to indicate that what the previous generation endured has to be used as prologue or as a type of warning to the current generation, and not a call to continue such behavior.  Jim is indicating to Troy that he can change and not follow in his father's footsteps.  Whether or not Troy believes this becomes secondary, as the reader understands that Cory does when he chooses a different path from his father, avoiding his own father's "walking blues."

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