Fatherhood is a major theme in Fences. Comment on Troy’s childhood and how it has influenced his parenting.

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Though Troy does not admit it directly, it becomes clear, through his recollections, that he is repeating the mistakes of his father. These mistakes are a lack of compassion for his son, Cory, and infidelity.

Troy's father was a sharecropper down South. Though Troy makes it clear, in a...

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Though Troy does not admit it directly, it becomes clear, through his recollections, that he is repeating the mistakes of his father. These mistakes are a lack of compassion for his son, Cory, and infidelity.

Troy's father was a sharecropper down South. Though Troy makes it clear, in a conversation with Bono, that his father stayed with his family ("My daddy ain't had them walking blues!"). However, "he was just as evil as he could be." Troy's mother, he says, couldn't stand him and "all his women run off and left him."

Troy then goes on to tell about how his father disrupted what would have been his son's first sexual encounter with a local girl of fourteen. He does this, Troy recollects, because his father had wanted the girl for himself. His father is thus revealed to be not only a moral reprobate, but also disloyal toward and extremely insensitive toward his son and to Troy's mother.

By having an affair and, later, a child, with Roberta, Troy demonstrates that same disloyalty and insensitivity toward his own family. He, like his own father who had many children with many women, is proud of his virility. However, his code of manhood demands that he also take care of his responsibility. He insists on raising the child that he has with Roberta (though this eventually becomes Rose's responsibility), just as his own father insisted on remaining with his family, in spite of his distaste for commitment.

Arguably, Troy's understanding of what it means to be a father is limited to being a provider. In one of the play's most significant monologues, he responds harshly to Cory's question, "Do you like me?" He insists that he does not have to like his son, but that he takes care of him because it is his responsibility, a matter worked out between him and Rose. Cory is the only child that Troy has made an effort to raise. He left his older son, Lyons, it seems, in order to be with Rose. 

 

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