Find two symbols in the story "Fences." Identify the symbol and what it means.

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

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The symbols of "fences" and baseball occupy significance in Wilson's drama.  The sport of baseball is symbolic of dreams, their pain, and the division that such love can often bring.  Baseball is the sport that Troy loved playing.  The reality is that race caused a "fence" built around baseball, ensuring that Troy could not achieve his dream.  The dream of baseball haunts at Troy.  It is a symbol because it represents a pure love and an immersion for Troy in which there is no fence, no barrier or obstacle.  Yet, baseball becomes a symbol of his hurt and pain, something within which Troy is never able to fully find peace. Something that Troy participates in without a fence builds a fence to keep him apart from it.  Baseball is a symbol of the hope that causes pain for Troy, something within which he cannot discover the brutal beauty.  Troy is separated from his love as much as any fence divides him from anything else.

Just as the home run in baseball is defined by hitting the ball over a "fence," the symbol of a "fence" is significant in the drama.  Troy's entire being is constructed with physical, social, and emotional fences. Socio- economic realities such as race and class help to develop a fence for Troy, elements he believes helps to deny him his chance at happiness.  In his own past, Troy's life was defined by a "fence" in terms of what prison represented for him.  At the same time, Troy establishes emotional fences between he and his children.  This is best seen with Cory, where the emotional fence that Troy builds prevents father and son from finding some reconciliation.  At the same time, Troy's emotional fence with his wife, Rose, and friend, Bono, help to establish some of his alienation.  Troy finds himself lost within the fence he creates with the people around him.  Troy's desire to build a fence to keep death away from him is a reflection of how much the "fence" has occupied importance in his life.  The symbols of baseball and the fence are significant in the drama because they are physical representations of Troy's emotional state of being.

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