What is Bono's role in Fences and how does he serve as a foil to Troy?

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Bono's function in this play is that he shows that there can be redemption within the psyche of individuals, no matter how difficult external conditions may be.

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Bono is a foil to Troy, meaning that he provides a contrast to Troy's negative qualities and is the voice of conscience. Bono possesses the qualities that Troy does not. Bono is, for example, a very loyal friend. At the beginning of the play, he supports Troy's attempt to become a driver on the garbage truck. Bono is also a conscientious person who warns Troy not to become involved with Alberta. He is concerned that Troy will hurt his devoted wife, Rose, and tells Troy to "work it out right." Bono is the voice of reason and decency, and he tells Troy that his affair with Alberta while he is still with Rose is not going to work out. He says that eventually, Troy is going to lose one of the women. Troy does not listen to Bono, and they eventually part ways. However, Bono always believes that Troy is capable of good and admires him. Later, after Troy dies, Bono sees Cory, Troy's son, in his Marines uniform and tells Cory that he looks like Troy did when he was young. Bono has always liked the good parts of Troy and has wanted Troy to be a good man.

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Jim Bono shares a history with Troy Maxson that goes back to their time in prison together. As the men age, they take the same job and both keep to steady relationships. Bono admits to looking up to Troy and, for his part, Troy enjoys Bono's company and companionship.

From the first moments of the play, the relationship between the men is made clear. 

Troy has been a role model for Bono, but Bono serves as a conscience for Troy.

Bono brings up Alberta in the first scene of the play, attempting to draw out Troy on the subject of his (potential) mistress. Troy refuses to admit to any wrong doing or even any special relationship with the woman, yet here Bono's role as Troy's conscience and moral counterpart is established. 

As the play goes on, distinctions continue to be made that clarify the differences between the two men. Where Troy is a father treating his own sons just as he was treated when growing up (thereby repeating the past), Bono has avoided the path that his own father took. 

Bono's father was a man with many women and many children. Bono, however, remains with Lucille faithfully and they have no children.

Bono's positive relationship with Lucille demonstrates that a man has the ability to change the direction of his life.

Unlike Troy, Bono seems to bear no bitterness for what happened in his past and he is content with the life he has established for himself. Troy is both bitter and ambitious, agitating for a new position at work.

These direct contrasts make Bono a foil for Troy, illuminating the strengths and weaknesses of Troy's character.

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What is Bono's function in Fences?

I think that Bono's function in the play is a hopeful one.  His purpose is to show that there can be redemption within the psyche of individuals no matter how difficult external conditions may be.  It is here in Bono's character where there is hope.  While Troy might be psychologically incapable of happiness or simply emotionally impotent to escape his own "fences," Bono has found happiness, a contentment with where he is in his consciousness.  His love for his wife is evident, even though she is not a character in the drama.  His ability to center himself emotionally is also evident in how he consistently counsels Troy to stop in his affair with Alberta.  Bono is a force of redemption, a sense of hope.  If Wilson does not include the presence of Bono, then the reality is that men like Troy, who are besieged with social and emotional challenges, would be shown to be incapable of happiness.  Bono forces the recognition that individuals do have freedom and autonomy.  Bono compels the reader/ audience to believe that individuals can act in the hope of escaping the "fences" that prevent them from enjoyment of life.  While it is a small character and not to the level of Troy in the play, Bono's role is significant in this regard.  In a cold and cruel world, there can be moments where individuals transcend "fences," escape their "walking blues," and find some happiness in a world that severely lacks it.

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