There’s already a lot of answers to this question that have been posted, so I’m going to try to focus on a few different ideas about the symbolic nature of fences in Fences.
The protagonist of Fences is Troy, a struggling pater familias. Troy’s name is an excellent, often overlooked allusion to fences. The walls of Troy, in The Iliad, are arguably the most famous fences in the history of mankind—fences that eventually came tumbling down, just as Troy’s own insecurities and struggles lead to his own breakdowns with his family. Troy the character is symbolic of the city of Troy. He holds out as long as he can against forces beyond his control, for reasons concerning his own pride, which only end up hurting him.
Gabriel is another character tied to the symbol of fences. In Biblical scholarship, Gabriel is an arc angel of heaven, a correlation August Wilson calls to mind directly with one of Gabriel’s lines near the end of the play: “You ready, Troy. I’m gonna tell St. Peter to open the...
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