The Theme of Dissatisfaction in the Play Fences - Critical Essay

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Troy Maxson is the protagonist in the Play, Fences. He is a 53-year-old, African American guy who works in a sanitation department, loading garbage into lorries. He used to play baseball. Maxson's athletic ability went down before blacks were accepted to play in the Major League. Troy is strong, hard-working, and loves to tell fanciful and compelling stories and truth twisting. He is the breadwinner in his family and plays a big role in their 35-year friendship with Jim Bono, who is his fellow worker at the sanitation. Maxson's character is the core within which every other relationship in the play gathers around. Troy is the father of Lyons and Cory. Rose is his wife and the mother of the children. Gabriel is his brother. Troy can be described as a tragic hero in the manner in which he is excessively proud of his role as a breadwinner. He is so much depressed by his continuous hard work for a very long time with very meager progress. In many times, the character fails to offer support and love that means a lot to his family and loved ones.

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Troy Maxson House Dissatisfaction

In Act One, scene One, Troy describes the kind of house he used to stay in on Logan Street that got swept away by wind during winter. He tries to compare that house and the one he is living in at the time of play. He claims that he used to think that only white folks could live in houses with toilets and things. In response, his wife, Rose says that there are a lot of people who dont know that they can do better than they are doing. From this excerpt, it is clear that many people, like Troy, used to, are leaving in dissatisfaction. Troy says that he only thought that only white men could live in houses with toilets, this indicates the kind of racism and discrimination that exists in the setup that makes the blacks dissatisfied.

Fences: Theme of Dissatisfaction

Considering the term dissatisfaction as a theme, there are many instances in the play where the protagonist is found in such a situation of dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction is the theme that causes several troubles in the play. Troy Maxson who is the protagonist in the play is so much dissatisfied with the kind of life he is leading. He is so disappointed that his dreams of pro baseball got were thwarted by racism in the country. He feels unfulfilled and entangled in his garbage collection job. He is also constantly disappointed by the fact that his son, Lyons doesn't love work and sees no value in it. Troy loves his wife Rose, but in the play, he finds himself in love with another woman (Act 2). The play, explains how this theme of dissatisfaction can create a behavior that destroys the life of a person and the lives of those around them and the ones they care about.

Troy Maxson Relationship With Father

The painful memories of Troy offer a context that helps the reader understand how dissatisfied the character is in his life. Troy's father was a flopped sharecropper like many other black men after slavery was abolished. Maxson says that his father was so evil-minded that no woman could stay with him for a very long time and that made him grow up motherless most of the time his life. When he was 14, his father realized that his mule had taken off and Troy was supposedly taking care of it. Troy's father then found him with a lady he was having a crush on. He then ruthlessly beat Troy. Troy just thought that his father was angry at him for disobedience, but the old man went further and raped the lady. From that moment, Troy became afraid of his father. At the time of the play, Troy sees himself as a man enough and can no longer stay with his evil father. In this instance, Troy is dissatisfied with his father as a result of abuse and conflict. This makes him leave his father to try to change the situation.

Relationship of Troy Maxson and Sons

Troy is also dissatisfied with the kind of life his son, Lyons is leading. The play describes how Lyons was only raised by a single parent, which is his mother, during the period when Troy was jailed. As seen in Act 3, this makes Lyons feel that his father has nothing to tell him and he has the right to make his own decision and make true his dreams of becoming a musician. Since his father was not there to nurture him, Lyons ends up borrowing money from his father; he doesn't demonstrate respect to him. Eventually, Cory leaves home in an almost similar situation with Maxson and his father.

Troy is also dissatisfied with the fact that his son, Cory is so much interested in football. He does not wish his son to go through the disappointment and hardship that he went through when he was pursuing his dream of becoming a baseball player, so he orders Cory to go to work after school rather than going to practice with his football team. This doesn't please Cory and as a result, a conflict develops between a father and a son.


From the play, we get to find that the protagonist undergoes several challenges in life which come from disappointment that range from history to the family. He struggles to find his way out of the situations throughout the play.

Works Cited

John C. Cothran. (2006). A Search of African American Life, Achievement and Culture: First Search. Stardate Publishing.

Wilson, August (1986). Fences: A Play (First ed.). New York: Plume.

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