Discuss Troy's experience of being in prison in Fences.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Troy's background and experience in prison helps formulate a great deal of his adult identity.  On one hand, prison becomes the natural extension of his own relationship with his father.  The abuse, neglect, and lack of psychological health in that relationship made Troy's entrance into bad decision making a reality, something that culminated with his arrest for murder and robbery.  Troy's time in prison ended up yielding two distinct realities that play a large role in his life after it.  The first is that Troy continues his talent on the baseball field.  Prison allows Troy, in a sense, to see a life outside of prison, and outside of "fences" in the skill and talent he shows in baseball.  Interestingly enough, another experience from prison is that Troy learns to live in a sort of psychological set of "fences."  Prison cuts Troy off from human connection and from human interaction, something that ends up haunting him greatly in the course of the drama.  Once Troy leaves prison, he is too old to play baseball and the newly integrated leagues makes competition so difficult that Troy is closed out of his dream.  Troy recognizes his skin color and the entire social configuration against him.  At the same time, Troy is unable to fully interact with people on an emotional level, something that prison only enhanced.  Coupled with his internal "fences" caused from prison, and the reality that awaits him after prison, one that is socially driven by "fences," Troy's prison experience casts a large shadow on him and his time after it.

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