Compare and contrast Walter in A Raisin in the Sun and Troy in Fences.

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e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Walter Younger and Troy Maxson are quite different characters, but do share some similar challenges regarding family and regarding race. Of the many differences that distinguish these two characters, the most significant difference lies in the fact that Walter achieves redemption and Troy does not. 

Looking at the character's similarities: Dignity is an issue for both Walter and Troy. Walter feels demeaned by his position as a chauffeur. 

He works as a chauffeur, a job he finds unsatisfying on a number of levels but most particularly because he does not desire to be anyone's servant.

Troy has a similar attitude about his job as a garbage collector. Both men also reflect on their father's professional lives before them, lives characterized by endless toil under spirit-breaking circumstances. The bitterness involved in these reflections connects the four men, Walter, Troy and their fathers, in a cycle of hardship (and family responsibility). 

Both Troy and Walter look for an escape from the undignified drudgery of their daily lives, longing for something better. Also, throughout, both Troy and Walter seek improvement for their families; their status.

Looking at the character's differences: Troy manages to get a promotion on his job, however, he does not improve his family's situation. 

While he realizes the financial responsibility of being the head of a family, he fails to grasp the emotional part of the job.

Troy is overwhelmed by his family obligations. He speaks often of the unvarying routine of his life as he works his way from Friday to Friday, experiencing little or no joy. Accompanied by his bitterness regarding his baseball career, Troy is led to cheat on his wife and treat his sons without affection. 

Troy is unable to overcome the bitterness he feels and the obstacles that face him. He is unable to find any emotional success, though it is available to him despite his circumstances just as it is available to Walter Younger. 

This is the greatest difference between the two men. Each fosters an ambition for personal improvement as the play begin, but only Walter is able to find a way to align his own interests with those of his family.

At the play's end, Walter "achieves a sense of himself as an adult and leader of his family", while Troy, oppositely, becomes isolated from his wife and estranged from his son.