In Fences, what is the line between giving and taking where family is concerned for Lyons?

In Fences by August Wilson, Lyons draws a line when he asks his father, Troy, for money. Lyons will only ask for a loan, not a gift, and he always pays the loan back.

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In August Wilson's play Fences, Lyons is Troy Maxson's oldest son from a previous marriage. By the time the play begins, he is grown up, married, and playing in a band. He struggles financially, though, and often borrows money from Troy. He puts up with plenty of guff from his father at those times, too, and that's why Lyons draws a clear line with his family when it comes to giving and taking. He borrows, but he never accepts a gift, and he always pays back the loan.

In act 1, scene 1, Lyons stops by Troy's house and makes some small talk. He then says that he needs ten dollars. Troy hems and haws and fusses and tells Lyons to get a job. Eventually Rose gives Lyons the money but not without protest from Troy. Lyons patiently puts up with his father's talk, for he has heard it all before. He firmly maintains that Troy is not going to change him at this point; he has his own life and his own ways. When he finally gets the money, Lyons promises to give it back. Troy fusses some more and says, “Time I see that ten dollars … he'll be owing me thirty more.” Lyons ignores him, thanks him, and goes on his way.

Later, in act 1, scene 4, Lyons appears again. Troy is positive that his son wants to borrow more money, but Lyons has actually come to pay back the ten dollars. Troy tells him to put the money in the bank, but Lyons will not accept a gift. Rose takes the money, and Lyons says, “If you don't take it I'm gonna have to hear about it for the next six months.” He knows his father too well, and that's why Lyons draws a line. He will take a loan only, and he will pay it back.

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