Theme Of Death In Fences

Great Essays
Death is a complex and often agonizing phenomenon which many writers incorporate into their literature in order to unfold a personal understanding of death or to demonstrate the various roles which death can play. Writers typically use death as a motif to reinforce a theme hidden in the core of a story or an overarching truth pointing to the moral of the story. In August Wilsons’ Fences, the motif of death arguably acts as a character in the play. Death is repeatedly personified and metaphorically compared to baseball. The frequent presence of death as a character in the play reinforces the theme that death is an inevitable force. Having faced death in series of tragic events, Troy Maxson battles death in attempt to gain control over his life …show more content…
Troy uses baseball, a topic he is comfortable with, to either threaten Cory or describe death. Troy’s familiarity with the sport and use of the metaphor make him feel that he has power over the danger of death. Following the fight instigated by Troy’s destruction of Cory’s football career, Troy warned his son, “You swung and you missed. That’s strike one. Don’t you strike out!” (58) Troy uses this baseball analogy to assert dominance by establishing himself as the umpire. He gives Cory a strike and threatens that he better watch out in order to ward him off. He does this in a manner similar to how he fends off death. Troy feels a need to combat death as he often remarks on his ability to resist it. In the first scene, Troy declares, “Death ain't nothing but a fastball on the outside corner,” when talking to Bono (10). He follows that statement up with an explanation about how he has the ability to send a fastball out of the park. Troy defends his strength and believes that he is able to conquer death because he has been so stable through the unanticipated hardship he has experienced. He uses baseball as a defense mechanism because he is comfortable with it and able to fight using it when feeling threatened or …show more content…
Death is inevitable in that it cannot be ignored or escaped. Troy does not have power over death because it controls the way in which he thinks and parents. Troy is an aggressive parent because he fears the death of his son’s career and dreams. Additionally, Troy hides behind his knowledge of baseball in order to feel powerful when fending of threats or potential death. His obsession with defeating death becomes so large that he personifies death, letting him into his life as a character. Through this play, August Wilson is able to prove to the reader that death, metaphorically and physically, is an inevitable part of life that humans cannot

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