Discuss the important role that setting (both place & time) plays in Fences. How is the setting revealed & portrayed throughout the play?
The play is set in 1957, a time of burgeoning post-war socio-economic growth for most white Americans. But not for African Americans. It is a time of civil rights in the Northeast and major cities in the South. The play is set in Pittsburgh, Pa, a blue-collar, working class city where jobs in the steel mills were aplenty during the growth of the American infrastructure.
First, Troy had played baseball in the Negro Leagues, but after he was released from jail and the major leagues had become integrated in the late 1940s he missed his opportunity; he was too old.
Now, in the post-war employment boom, Troy was being left out for the good jobs. Employers were hiring union workers, whites, white immigrants, not very many African Americans. Housing too provided for G.I.s, but African-Americans were feeling the squeeze by realtors who tried to black ball them from good neighborhoods.
What's left for Troy? The bottom of the labor force: a sanitation worker. In three generations since the end of slavery, the African-American male was not much better off. Even then, the whites have the better jobs: only the white men get to drive the garbage trucks. The African-Americans must ride off the back and do the majority of the manual labor.