What are some similarities and differences between Troy and Cory Maxson in Fences?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Troy and his son Cory seem to have parallel lives in many ways, which manifests in both similarities and differences. One similarity is that both Troy and Cory have fathers who are cold and neglectful, but the ways in which this is demonstrated differs. Troy's father was mean and abusive...

See
This Answer Now

Start your subscription to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your Subscription

Troy and his son Cory seem to have parallel lives in many ways, which manifests in both similarities and differences. One similarity is that both Troy and Cory have fathers who are cold and neglectful, but the ways in which this is demonstrated differs. Troy's father was mean and abusive to his various wives and so abusive to Troy's own mother that she ran away and left Troy with the abusive dad. His father often neglected his basic needs like ensuring that he had enough food, using Troy as a manual laborer even when he was a child. He also attempted to rape Troy's girlfriend and beat Troy until he was nearly dead. On the other hand, Cory's experience of coldness and neglect by Troy is more emotional than actual physical abuse. Troy will not tell Cory that he loves him, doesn't support Cory's dreams regarding his football career, and is verbally tough on Cory, even calling him the "n-word" in act 2 scene 4.

Troy and Cory are similar in that they are both outstanding athletes. Troy was a superstar baseball player in the Negro National Baseball League, and Cory is an outstanding high school football player being recruited by a college team. Both of them have their athletic careers cut short, but the reason this happens to each of them differs. Troy does not go on to have a more successful career as a baseball player because he is African American and is not allowed to play in the major leagues where the big money is, and he is also older than most professional athletes. Although Cory has a tremendous opportunity to play college football and professional teams are now open to African American players, his career is ended by Troy. Troy refuses to sign a permission form for Cory to be recruited by the college scout, and he tells Cory's football coach that he will no longer be playing for the high school team because he's got to work.

Furthermore, the lives of Cory and Troy are similar because both were forced to leave home while they were still teenagers as a result of fights they had with their fathers. Troy chose to leave home after his father attempted to rape his girlfriend, and as Troy endeavored to protect his girlfriend, his father beat him within an inch of his life. Troy knew that in order to survive and build a life for himself, he had to leave home. Similarly, Cory fights with his father Troy, but over the issue of respect. Cory refuses to show his father respect by saying "excuse me" when he needs to get around Troy getting into the house. This results in a physical altercation between the two, and like Troy, he loses the battle. But rather than Cory deciding on his own to leave home, Troy kicks Cory out of the house and tells Cory that when he comes back for his things, they will be waiting on the other side of the fence.

In looking at the similarities between the lives of Troy and Cory, the audience sees how difficult it is to break away from the negative patterns seen in the lives of one's parents. In the life of Troy, although he sought to be better than his own father, there were ways in which he perpetuated the same cycle of abuse.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The similarities between Troy and his son Cory are that they both hope for a better life and one that involves living out their dreams. When Troy was young, he hoped to play baseball, though he was not allowed into the major leagues as an African American man. Cory hopes to play football; however, his father believes that Cory will face racism, and Cory winds up joining the military instead. Troy and Cory are also similar because they both give up their dreams in favor of practical jobs. Troy works on a garbage truck, while Cory joins the military.

Troy and Cory are different because Troy believes that African Americans in America will never be given a fair shake. Cory, however, believes that it is possible for an African American to get ahead and thinks that racism will not hold him back. He thinks his father is out of date for thinking that nothing has changed with regard to racism in America.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The similarities between Troy and his stepson Corey are their talents and their ambition, particularly when comparing Cory to Troy when the latter was Cory's age. Cory has the same athletic ambitions that Troy had when he was younger, but due to the changing times and the relenting of systematic racism in American sports institutions, Cory is presented with opportunities of which Troy could have never dreamed, such as being scouted for college teams.

Whether he is aware of it or not, this fact breeds a certain resentment in Troy which manifests as belligerence at times. Troy passes off a fair amount of his toxicity towards Cory. After Troy's death, Cory seems to display some of the resentment that Troy had throughout his life, hoping to spite his late father by not attending his funeral.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Troy Maxson and his stepson Cory have a number of things in common. Neither have lived a wealthy or particularly comfortable life, and both are black, which created a great disadvantage for them in the 1950s. Both are sporty, with Troy having once played baseball in the Negro League and Cory being offered a football scholarship to college.

I think the biggest difference between the two is their age gap and the difference in mindset that this brings. Being older, Troy has become jaded by all the ways that being black has held him back. Cory, on the other hand, is from a younger generation and believes implicitly that societal change for the better is a possibility.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team