The first conflict between Troy and Cory is in regards to chores. Rose reminds Troy that he has said he would complete the fence in the yard and Troy insists that he will get it done, but Cory needs to put some effort into helping.
When Cory leaves home on a Saturday morning for football practice without finishing his chores first, Troy is waiting when he gets back home. Troy reprimands Cory for leaving without doing his chores.
In this conversation, Cory states his interest in playing football and Troy says he will not allow Cory to quit his job at the A&P.
This is the moment Cory asks why Troy doesn't like him. Troy responds that as his father, he does not have to like his son. The only demand he feels in relation to Cory is to raise him properly and to provide for him.
The confrontation ends with Troy telling Cory to get back down to the supermarket and get his job back.
The themes of the trouble between father and son are established in this scene. Troy refuses to yield to his son in any way, showing no affection, offering no reassurance, and setting down absolute rules of behavior. For his part, Cory expresses his need for some sign of approval from his father and gets nothing of the sort.
Troy is locked into a mode of parenting learned from his own father.
His father was brutal and controlling, and although Troy loves Cory, he knows of no other way to bring up a son.
As the play goes on, Cory defies Troy's order to quit the football team and get his job back. When Troy finds this out, he confronts his son and tells Cory that this defiance is the first strike. He warns his son not to take more steps in this direction.
Strike two comes when Troy and Rose have an argument and Cory steps in to protect his mother, knocking Troy to the ground. Troy refrains from retaliating physically, but warns Cory again, warning him that this is his second strike and telling him not to strike out.
This episode is similar to one that Troy relates about his own childhood. When Troy was fourteen years old, he fought with his father over a young woman. That episode caused a permanent break between Troy and his father, launching Troy into the world to fend for himself. When Cory accosts his father, we see the potential for a similar break between these two men.
When Troy is at his lowest point, having lost his mistress, Alberta, when she dies during childbirth, and losing his wife's respect and affection at the same time, the conflict between Cory and Troy comes to its climax.
Cory comes home and tries to step around his father to get into the house. Troy refuses to move and the two scuffle and fight. Troy's refusal to move can be read symbolically, as he has continued to alter his behavior over the course of the play.
The nature of the conflict between Cory and his father can be seen as stemming from Troy's inability to change, to move, or to depart from the mode of behavior set by his own father (a man who Troy himself dislikes intensely).
By the end of the play, Cory has realized that Troy will never yield or change. Cory no longer hopes for approval from his father. When Cory tries to physically move his father, the final break is made between father and son.
In the end, Cory leaves the house for good, and Troy ends the scene with a taunt for death to come.