Is Troy a bad father in Fences?

It can certainly be argued that Troy is a bad father. Troy loves his son, but he is, at the very least, an imperfect father.

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Troy is certainly an imperfect father. As a child, he was saddled with an abusive father, so he does not have an ideal model of what a father should be when dealing with his own children. Troy is a good provider for his family; however, he is also domineering. He...

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does not like having his decisions opposed by his own son, who he believes should be subordinate to his will. Troy also has a tendency to lash out atCory, straining their relationship even more.

His opposition to Cory's dreams largely comes from a place of concern rather than sheer tyranny. Troy's own athletic ambitions were thwarted by racial prejudice. He does not want the same fate to befall his son. Troy hopes his forceful dissuasion will save Cory from heartbreak and disappointment. However, Cory refuses to be strong-armed, and Troy's behavior fractures their father-son relationship.

Troy's biggest problem as a father (and as a husband) is that he is unable to be vulnerable or tender. He fulfills all his responsibilities, making sure everyone is provided for, but he is so harsh and controlling that he only serves to push his son away.

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How does Troy view fatherhood in Fences?

Troy feels that his role as a father is to protect his sons from the harshness of life, including the racism that he experienced when he was younger. He comes across as unloving and gruff at times, but, at heart, his harshness is an attempt to spare his sons of what he experienced. For example, he warns Cory that he won't be able to play football, as Troy was kept from playing baseball because of racism. Troy also warns his other son, Lyons, that he will never make it as a jazz musician. Troy quashes his sons' dreams, but his motivation to do so is not to be cruel. Instead, he thinks if his sons take up practical jobs (such as his own job working on a garbage truck), they will be protected from the racism of the white world.

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How does Troy view fatherhood in Fences?

Troy feels that his role as a father is to provide his son with discipline and opportunity. Troy insists that Cory refrain from playing football and he expresses his reasons. Football will not provide Cory with the skills to succeed that an education and work experience will provide. 

Cory accuses his father of being competitive, but Troy claims to be helping Cory to avoid the same disappointments that he faced himself in his baseball career. The attitude of control and the inability to express his feelings softly seem to be traits continued from Troy's own childhood. 

His father was brutal and controlling, and although Troy loves Cory, he knows of no other way to bring up a son.

Troy's parenting shows no yielding. He cannot even tell his son that he likes him when Cory asks this rather vulnerable question. As Cory grows more rebellious and assertive, Troy becomes increasingly combative and stern. Troy's inability to allow Cory to pursue his interests and to express any self-will work to sever their relationship. 

Unable to compromise, to soften his position, Troy pushes his son away (violently) and never gets him back. 

The audience should reasonably suspect that Troy is denying his true motivations regarding his parenting decisions in the same way that he denies his own responsibility for his failure in baseball and in marriage. 

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