What is the symbolism of the garden and Raynell in Fences by August Wilson? 

In August Wilson's play Fences, Raynell and the garden are symbolic of the Maxson family's fresh start and of new life. Further, they both symbolize beauty and love.

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At the end of August Wilson's play Fences, Raynell, who is seven years old, has planted a garden (presumably with the help of Rose). On the day of her father's funeral, she is outside, poking around in the garden, and when Rose calls her and asks what she is doing, she replies, "Seeing if my garden growed." Rose tells her that it won't grow overnight, but Raynell is impatient and doesn't think her garden will ever grow. She doesn't want to wait. Rose says that she must "give it a chance" and assures her, "It'll grow."

Raynell and the garden both symbolize new life and a fresh start. Troy has passed away now, and the family must move on without him. Life will be different, and it might take a while for Rose, Raynell, Lyons, Cory, and Gabriel to adjust to Troy's absence. They will have to wait for their grief to fade and to see what changes will come, but they still have hope. Life goes on, and the family will start fresh, even though they will still feel the effects of Troy in their lives. In time, they will grow together and bear fruit just like their new garden.

Raynell is probably the only character in the play who has not been deeply affected by Troy and all his hang-ups. She is still too young to be overly touched by her father. She shows the impatience of a child who is engaged in life and ready to meet new experiences head on. She wants her garden to grow right now, and she is not wise enough to understand that it takes time. She is young and excited and ready to plunge into life, and she symbolizes her family's hope for the future.

Like the flowers in the story, Raynell and the garden bring beauty into the world. Raynell is a beautiful little girl, and her family clearly loves her dearly. She is bright and loveable and sweet. The garden, too, as it grows, will bring beauty to the Maxson family's little corner of the world, and it will be a place where they can work together and grow together.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
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