What does Cory learn in Fences?

Cory learns about the importance of living without emotional walls and embracing forgiveness and family.

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In August Wilson’s play Fences, Cory learns about the importance of breaking down emotional barriers.

Cory had a difficult relationship with his father, Troy, who never showed him real affection and prevented him from pursuing his dream of playing football. Troy treated Cory this way because he himself had a poor relationship with his own abusive father. The men in the Maxson family thus passed down emotional “fences” and kept each other at a distance.

Cory is the one who breaks this cycle. He learns from Troy’s poor parenting and sees how hurtful being stubborn and closed off can be to others. After a physical altercation with Troy, he separates from the family, and Troy symbolically leaves Cory’s belongings on the other side of the fence. At this moment, Cory sees how destructive emotional walls can be.

When Troy dies, Rose convinces him to attend the funeral. She teaches him that not attending would be acting like Troy and holding onto anger. She also emphasizes the importance of family loyalty and respecting who his father was despite their differences. By choosing to attend, Cory shows that he has learned to be different from his father and to embrace forgiveness and emotional intimacy.

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