In Fences by August Wilson, what is the play's attitude toward women?

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While the roles of African-American men in society are clearly changing in Fences , the same cannot really be said of the women in their lives. For the most part, women occupy a subordinate role in the play, an indication of how they were regarded at that time both in...

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While the roles of African-American men in society are clearly changing in Fences, the same cannot really be said of the women in their lives. For the most part, women occupy a subordinate role in the play, an indication of how they were regarded at that time both in American society and in African-American culture.

A notable parallel emerges between the unfair treatment of black people in the United States and the objectification of women of color within the African-American community. For Troy, Rose isn't a person in her own right, with her own needs, wants, and desires; she isn't someone to be loved, valued, and cherished for what she is. Instead, she's an object to be possessed and controlled.

Troy may justly rail against the numerous examples of unfair treatment he's encountered over the years, but that doesn't stop him from cheating on Rose or excluding her from discussions with Bono, which he describes as "men talk," discussions which revolve around treating women as sex objects. And throughout it all, Rose continues to adopt a submissive posture, spending most of the time stuck in the kitchen, slaving away for the menfolk in her life.

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A good - and a complicated - question.  Wilson focuses on the male perspective, on the differences between Troy and his each of his sons and Troy and Bono.  Women are a smaller part of the play, but Rose and Raynell do give some clues.

The best answer is this - women are portrayed positively but realistically.  Rose is a strong and intelligent woman.  She is loyal to her family and her husband.  She manages the money Troy gives her every week and keeps the family healthy.  She sees what opportunities exist for Cory and argues for him logically and articulately.  She speaks with temperance, whereas Troy always exaggerates.  However, she is a product of her time.  She talks about having to find a man who would protect her and do for her because she knows what limitations exist for an African-American woman.  She does not walk out on Troy when he cheats on her for the same reason - she is limited by the time.  This dependence does not present her as a feminist in any way - she is not changing the world around it.  However, she is doing her duty in that world and Wilson clearly wants us to respect her.

In the small bit we see of Raynell, we can already see a brighter future for her as a woman.  She is independent and intelligent, even as a young girl.  She is curious and questions both her Rose and Cory.  In her brief scene, she is in no way subservient, making her a more feminist character.

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