Should one understand Troy Maxson to be primarily a victim of racism?

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

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Troy is a very complex and intricate character.  Wilson has designed him as such.  Accordingly, he can be understood as being a victim on many levels.  Certainly, racism is a part of this equation.  Troy's dreams of playing baseball have been thwarted as a result of racial identity, and his economic opportunities have been limited as a result of being a person of color in a world that does not fully understand such a reality.  Yet, Troy is more than simply a victim of racism.  We can see this in the play.  In Act II, his job improves, representing a minimizing of the racism that he noted in the first act.  Despite this, he is still unhappy and there is something lacking in him.  It is here where Troy can be seen as a victim to something more than just racism.  He is a victim of being a son from an abusive and neglectful father.  He is a victim in being unable to overcome the hatred and hurt that exist in his heart.  He is a victim of not being able to effectively display his emotions, unable to understand that their expression is vital to his own well- being.  He is a victim of not being able to overcome the "fences" this creates.  Troy is a victim to so many forces.  Racism is one of these, but I think that that it might be not entirely accurate to suggest that he is primarily a victim of racism.


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