Why does Troy refuse to sign Cory's college scholarship papers in Fences?

Quick answer:

Troy's refusal to support Cory's pursuit of his dream stems from Troy's own experiences, his relationship with his father, and the social conditions that surrounded him when he was unable to fulfill his dream.

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Troy's refusal to support Cory's scholarship and the pursuit of his dream of playing football stems from Troy's own experiences and his belief about the father/ son relationship.  Troy's background was similar to Cory in that he played baseball and loved it almost as much as Cory with football.  However, the bad choices that Troy made that landed him in prison, costing him valuable time, and the social conditions of the newly integrated baseball leagues both cost him the chance at his dream.  The bitterness that resulted in his own heart settled over time to become part of his personality.  These forces percolate to the surface when Cory approaches him because Troy displaces his own frustration towards Cory's situation.  Additionally, Troy begins to view the situation as a sign of disrespect when Cory commits to wanting to follow his dreams.  Adding to this would be Troy's own relationship with his father, an abusive association that scarred him as a son and casts a shadow on his ability to show love and support as a father.  It is in this light that Troy's refusal to sign the papers becomes an issue combining both past transgressions and present viewing of context.

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