What is the conflict between Troy and Cory in Fences?

The main conflict between Troy and Cory is that Troy will not allow Cory to pursue football. Cory is also upset by Troy’s lack of affection for him. Ultimately, Troy is tough on Cory because of his tense relationship with his own father and because his dreams were prevented by racist policies.

Expert Answers

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

In August Wilson’s play Fences, Troy and Cory have a complex relationship. The main conflict between them is that Troy does not want Cory to pursue football. Cory is offered a football scholarship, but Troy refuses to sign the college recruiter’s form and tells Cory to get his job back at the A&P. During the conversation, Cory brings up a deeper issue: Troy’s lack of affection. He asks him about this:

Cory: How come you ain’t never like me?

Troy: Liked you? Who the hell say I got to like you? What law is there say I got to like you?

The exchange reveals that there have been years of tension and coldness between the two of them. Cory is upset by his father’s stubbornness, and as a stubborn person himself, he does not listen. Troy eventually goes to Cory’s football coach and tells him that Cory can no longer play.

While Troy is extremely tough on his son, it is interesting to consider how his own background impacted who he became as a parent. He left his abusive father when he was fourteen, and his dreams of being a baseball player were impossible because of racist policies. This experience shaped his own perspective on how to relate to a son and made him unable to see that Cory’s experience with football could be different than his experience with baseball.

The tension between the two of them escalates when word gets out that Alberta is going to have Troy’s baby. When Troy is fighting with Rose, Cory intervenes and punches him. Several months later, they have a fight with a baseball bat and Troy tells Cory to leave the house. They never talk again, but Rose talks Cory into going to his father’s funeral out of family loyalty.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on