I certainly think that a case could be made for Troy not being the recipient of the reader's sympathy. Troy is a character that inflicts a great deal of pain on the people around him. His wife, Alberta, Cory, his friendships all consist of the the thread of his pain that he inflicts upon them. Part of this might be the self- hate and intense level of pain that exists within his own sensibilities. In this, I find it difficult to hold a great deal of sympathy for him because he does not take the paths that are offered to him in overcoming his own sense of hurt. Jim Bono suggests the need to avoid the conditions that plagued their own fathers, the "walking blues," and his advice is not respected. Rose is devoted to her husband, standing by him when so many others would not. She seeks to provide an emotional refuge for him, but it is one that he does not activate. In the end, Troy has options available to him in easing his hurt, or finding a way to overcome the intense level of pain that envelops him, but he fails to take these paths. While his predicament is a brutal one, it is difficult to hold sympathy for someone who has not taken advantage of the emotional opportunities afforded to him.
He is a product of his time. He lacked education and the nurturing of a mother when he was growing up. He has enough goodness in him to be responsible for everyone under his roof. He lacks dimension in his makeup. This is not due to the author not giving him dimension. It is the result of what society of the times expects of him.
Ironically, we all would like to think that he would have been there emotionally for his family. However, he was of the mind that "I am King of my castle." With this all under the roof were subject to his rule, and unfortunately that includes Rose. That does not excuse him to have an affair and mistreat members of the household. However, given how he was raised his efforts were an improvement. It is on this point that I give him sympathy. He is not perfect but in his own way he was there for all of his family. The fact that he does not hit Cory with the bat speaks toward my position on his character too.