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To put it simply, Fences is another installment of August Wilson’s American Century Cycle which takes place in the 1950s. Troy Maxson is a sanitary worker who once had a dream of being a professional baseball player, but was ultimately denied this dream due to racial discrimination. Family tension is created when Troy prevents his son Cory from meeting a college football recruiter. Cory is best described as being a dynamic character as he grows throughout the plot.
In Fences, August Wilson demonstrates the theme that it is up to one to escape the perpetuated cycle he or she is placed in as they endure the reality of the world they live in through the character of Cory Maxson. Cory ends up escaping his father Troy after constantly having his dreams destroyed by him. This occurs after the two characters get into an altercation with the outcome being Cory’s defeat: “Tell Mama I’ll be back for my things”. This was the last straw for both Cory and Troy after their numerous arguments with one another over Cory’s desire to play football. Cory saw this as an opportunity to escape Troy once and for all and ended up doing so. Later on in the film which makes a jump 8 years later to 1965, Cory comes back home in a military uniform: “Look at you, man. Look at you. Don’t he look good, Rose. Got them corporal stripes”.
Joining the military was probably another dream of Cory’s except that unlike a football career, he didn’t have any obstacles in his way and thus was able to achieve this dream. This goes to show how much Cory’s quality of life improved after escaping his father’s grasp. However, while Cory did physically escape his father, he still had to escape his shadow. During a conversation with his mother, Rose, he states that he will not attend Troy’s funeral: “Mama, I got something to tell you. I don’t know how to tell you this. . . but I’ve got to tell you. . . I’m not going to Papa’s funeral”. This tells us, the audience, that Cory is still not at peace with his father as he is still being haunted by him and believes he should continue to rebel against him. Later on, he changes his mind after he and his half-sister, Raynell, sing a song in Troy’s memory: “You go on in the house and change them shoes like Mama told you so we can go to Papa’s funeral”. Now that he let go of his anger towards Troy, Cory finally managed to escape his father completely and come to peace with him.
To sum it all up, Cory Maxson was the character August Wilson used to demonstrate the universal theme that it is up to one to escape the endless cycle he or she is in as they endure reality. Throughout Fences, Cory escaped his father after his crushed dreams and eventually escaped his father’s shadow. I recommend you to go see or read Fences if you haven’t already as it is one of August Wilson’s greatest works and rightfully earns its critical acclaim.
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