Student Question

How have circumstances shaped Troy in the play? How would his life differ if he turned fifty-three in 1947 or 1967, or if he was white?

Quick answer:

In the context of the play, circumstances are entirely responsible for making Troy the man that he is. Though he is delusional in many regards, it is made clear that Troy was a gifted athlete. He would have most likely been allowed to play in the major leagues if the rules of the time had allowed black men.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The majority of what makes Troy so envious and resentful are his extremely unlucky circumstances regarding the time period in which he was born. Even though he showed extraordinary promise as a baseball player, his athletic ability began to diminish with age just as the major leagues began to accept black players. Because of this, he sees lofty careers such as sports as something that a black man can never achieve. To him, it is just an empty promise from an establishment that cares nothing for his kind. If he had been born 20 years later, he would have had a decent shot at his dream, and it goes without saying that the same would be true at any time if he were white.

However, because he was deprived of his dream purely because of his race, as he sees it, he actively works to deprive his son, Cory, of the same dream. He states that he

decided seventeen years ago that boy wasn't getting involved in no sports. Not after what they did to me in the sports.

It is clear that, in a twisted sort of way, Troy is only trying to protect his son from the harsh realities of life. However, Troy has fixated on this injustice so much that his view has become too narrow to see what a good thing a college deal would be for his son. His circumstance completely informs his decision making, which causes the rifts between him and his family.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial