What is the role of women in Fences?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To a large extent, Wilson's depiction of women are to have the unfortunate distinction of being with a man who is unreachable.  Both Alberta and Rose can claim the "honor" of being with Troy.  Yet, both are unsuccessful in reaching him.  They cannot permeate or enter his world where emotional fences are built in order to keep out the pain and, eventual joy, of life.  In this, the women are kept at a distance.  Both are able to develop other forms of life whereby Troy is not necessarily a part of such a process.  Alberta's preoccupation with her pregnancy, one that eventually kills her, and Rose's participation with her church are the refuges that each woman can take away from Troy, who cannot provide any substantive emotional connection to each. While Troy is not as bad as his father with abuse and while he does provide for them financially, meeting his responsibility, he is noticeably absent from his emotional duty to each.  Wilson presents a setting whereby the pain that men experience are equally, if not worse, than that which men endure.  In this, women are shown to be relegated to an area of periphery in the lives of men, one in which they can try to influence and show power.  Yet, in the end, the emotional fences that men build, fortified by years of social neglect and personal abuse, are ones that might be too strong of barriers for them to storm.