Topics for Further Study
What is the nature of the conflict between Cory and Troy? Research the options for black athletes who were recruited by colleges in the 1950s Do you find that Troy's reservations about Cory's future as a ballplayer have merit?
Troy cannot read and so the oral tradition is an important means of communication for him. He tells his life story in Act I, scene iv. But he also tells part of his story through song. Research the role of storytelling as a part of the black experience. Consider also how the oral tradition has been replaced in many cultures by the printed page. Do you think that the oral tradition is a disappearing part of the American cultural experience?
In Fences, Troy's description of the devil eventually evolves into a description of a white salesman who cheats his black customers because they are too afraid to question his pronouncements, and thus, they allow themselves to be cheated. Examine the commercial relationship between whites and blacks in the 1950s. Is Troy's cynicism justified by the facts?
Early in Wilson's play, music and athletics are singled out the best opportunities for young black men to escape the ghetto existence of black urban life. Later, Cory joins the Marines, but is this an escape? In 1964, the United States is beginning a build-up of military strength in Vietnam, it will evolve into a war that will eventually be lost. What exactly did the military offer young black men? Research the role of the black soldier in Vietnam and consider if the percentage of blacks who died in that war represented an unequal sacrifice of life.