Discuss the father/son relationships in Fences and A Raisin in the Sun.

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

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Even though the father/ son relationship is much more evident in Wilson's work than in Hansberry's, the role of parenting is one that gives insight into the thematic development of each work.  Walter is not shown to have much specific emotional interaction with Travis, but his actions in the name of the family give much more redemption than Troy's.  Walter acts in the name of his family with a hopeful eye towards the future.  While he would be well within his rights and consistent with his character in accepting Lindner's money to not move into the better neighborhood, Walter acts as a family man in embracing his responsibility.  While there will be difficulty, the fact that Walter is going to lead his family down the more difficult path indicates that he understands his role as a provider and father in a greater sense than he previously did.  He acts with a sense of "tomorrow" as opposed to "yesterday," something that would presumably resonate in his relationship with his children, including Travis.

This is not the case with Troy and his family.  While he, too, is a provider for his family, he does not act with a sense of "tomorrow" in guiding his family.  Rather, he acts with an overwhelming sense of "yesterday" in his actions.  In this father/ son dynamic, much of Troy' own character is revealed.  The denial of Cory's dream, the anger with which he operates, and the hurt that had been perpetrated to him as a son is being transferred to the relationship between he and his son.  Troy is not a faulty provider, but he operates within his own "fence" that prevents him from fully embracing the emotional responsibility he has towards those around him.  Troy's weight of  "yesterday" not only impacts him as a father to his son, but also in how he approaches his own predicament.  Whereas Walter is willing to live with the struggle in the hopes for a better vision of tomorrow, Troy is not there yet.  The "walking blues" that Troy's friend Jim Bono discusses, is something that is present in Troy and guides his relationships with his family and, most notably, with his son.

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