Discuss how flashback is present in the play Fences by August Wilson.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To a great extent, Wilson has created Troy's character as representation of one large flashback.  Troy has not been able to sort through the wreckage of his own past to make sense of the present and future.  This causes him to live with one foot planted in the present and the other back in the past. It is for this reason that Troy has no future.  Troy's flashback- based recollections of the past are what impacts his parenting skills, as he is not able to shake off the abuse he suffered as a child and revisit that upon Cory.  The ruptured hopes of his own dreams of playing ball play a role in his intense opposition to Cory's hopes of pursuing football.  In these instances, Wilson's construction of Troy is one done through flashback and one that is done through the fact that the past is not really the past for Troy because he has not properly understood it.  In these flashbacks, Wilson is able to convey the despair in Troy's present, one that is sacrificed because of the power and pain of the past.

kmfrantz | Student

One of the most poignent flashbacks is the one one where Troy recalls why and how he left home. The story he tells captures his son Lyons and Bono as he recounts how he was caught messing around with a young girl behind his barn and upon his father finding them how he is beaten to a bloody pulp and left in a ditch, all while his father tried to "rape" the younge girl. This was a defining moment in Troy's life and really helps the reader understand why Troy does not know how to be a father to Cory, Lyons, or even Raynell. Often we see that without a stong parent figure in a life the person then perpetuates the same mistakes because there was not a model to follow. Troy's inability to "love" Cory directly stems from his own relationship with his own father. When Cory asks Troy why he does not love him, Troy explains that he does not have to love Cory, he only has to provide for him. This mindset can also be seen in Troy's relationship with his wife Rose.