Act 2, Scenes 1–3 Summary

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Last Updated August 17, 2023.

Scene 1

The next morning, Cory is awkwardly hitting a baseball with a bat. Rose asks him to help her clean a cupboard, and Cory says he isn't going to quit the team. Rose says that she will talk to him when he gets back from the police station; Gabriel has been arrested for disturbing the peace.

Troy returns with Bono. He has given the police fifty dollars to release Gabriel. He tells Rose to send Cory back out. Bono beings sawing wood. Troy says that the police only pick up Gabriel to induce Troy to give them money. 

Bono says that this wood is too hard for the fence, but Troy argues that it is "outside wood" and that he knows what he's doing.

Bono says that Troy and Alberta have "got tight." He has seen them laugh and joke together.

Cory enters, and Troy tells him to take the saw from Bono and cut some wood. Cory says he doesn't know why Rose wants a fence, and Troy agrees. Bono says that while some people build fences to keep people out, others do it to keep people in: "Rose wants to hold onto you all."

Troy sends Cory back into the house to look for another saw.

In his absence, Bono says that he remembers Troy having had his pick of women when he met Rose and says that she is the most sensible decision he has ever made. He tells Troy that Rose is a good woman; Troy says he knows this and asks why Bono is bringing it up. He asks whether it is because Bono thinks that Troy is seeing Alberta.

Troy admits that he has been seeing Alberta but says that Alberta "stuck onto" him and that he is trying to "shake [her] loose." He knows that Rose is the best woman for him. Bono tells him to work it out, because he loves both Troy and Rose. When Troy tells him he should mind his own marriage and buy Lucille a refrigerator as she has asked, Bono gets up to leave and says that he will buy the refrigerator when Troy succeeds in putting up the fence without him. He leaves.

Rose returns, and Troy explains what happened with Gabriel, who was arrested when some children were teasing him. Rose thinks it would be best for him to be in the hospital, but Troy says he needs to be free. Then, with some difficulty, he tells Rose that he is "gonna be somebody's daddy."

Rose is very confused. At this point Gabriel appears with a flower for Rose. He asks again whether Troy is mad at him. Meanwhile, Rose says there is nothing Troy can say to explain what he has told her. She tells Gabriel to go into the house and tells Troy that she has tried her best as a wife and can't understand why Troy would do this to her after eighteen years.

Troy says that he will be able to "come to an understanding," but Rose says it is too late for that. Troy tries to explain that Alberta offers him an escape from his problems and that he can laugh with her. He says that he can't give her up. When he is with his family, he is trying so hard to look after them that he has forgotten about himself. Alberta offered him an opportunity to "steal a second," and Rose says he should have "grabbed [her] and held on." Troy may have been standing still for eighteen years, but so has she. She, too, wants someone to make her laugh and to feel good. She has "planted a seed" inside Troy and waited for it to "bloom," and she only held on tighter when it didn't, honoring the fact that he was her husband.

Rose says that Troy takes but doesn't give, which Troy cannot stand. He tells her that he has given her everything he has, grabbing her arm. When Cory enters and sees this, he grabs Troy and punches him to the ground. Both are stunned, and when Troy moves toward Cory, Rose holds him back.

Troy tells Cory that this is "strike two" and that he must stay away from Troy.

Scene 2

Six months later, Rose wants to talk to Troy, for the first time in months. She wants to know if Troy is coming straight home after work, rather than going to Alberta's. She asks when her time is to enjoy herself and says she cannot live like this.

Troy says Alberta is about to have the baby. Rose says Gabriel has been committed and that the papers are reporting that Troy signed the paperwork for it. Troy, who cannot read, says he thought he was signing the release form.

The phone rings; it is the hospital notifying them that Alberta died having her baby, a girl. Rose asks who is going to bury Alberta, and Troy reacts as if her concern is money. He asks for space.

Rose leaves, and Troy says he is going to build a fence around his yard, “what belongs to me.” He challenges Death to stay on the other side of it until he is ready for Troy.

Scene 3

Three days later, Troy returns with the baby. Rose doesn't want to hear about it, so Troy sits down on the porch step with her. Speaking to the baby, he tells her that he is scared because he is going to be homeless with a baby.

Rose reappears, and Troy begs her to help him take care of the baby. Rose says that it isn't the baby's fault that she was born in such circumstances, so she will take the baby and look fater her—but Troy is "a womanless man."

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Act 1, Scenes 3–4 Summary


Act 2, Scenes 4–5 Summary