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play “Fences,” gender plays a significant role in the development of Troy‟s and Rose‟s characters. In the 1950‟s, the time period the play exists, women were submissive and men were dominant. In “Fences,” Troy‟s confession of infidelity causes a paradigm shift in the gender roles between Troy and Rose, giving Rose the dominant position in the relationship. In the first act of the play, Troy is sexist towards Rose to the point of misogyny. According to the stage directions, Rose stays with Troy because “her devotion to him stems from her recognition of the possibilities of life without him: a succession of abusive men and their babies, a life of partying and running the streets, the Church, or aloneness with its attendant pain and frustration,” (1.1.1991). She passively ignores Troy‟s blatant disrespect to her, knowing that her life without him would be much worse than his life with him. Troy rarely calls her by name, referring her mostly as “woman,” and even comparing her to a dog whenever she refuses to come when he calls her, “I had me an old dog used to get uppity like that. You say „C‟mere, Blue!‟…and he just lay there and look at you,” (1.4.2008). The dog, Old Blue, plays a significant role in “Fences.” In this act, the dog is a sign of faithfulness and fidelity, and Troy is in his own sexist way complimenting Rose by comparing her to Old Blue.
Comment [B3]: This is interesting to me, but it feels kind of lost and alone in the paper. I remember that Old Blue shows up again in the second act, and if I remember correctly that time he’s used as a symbol of loss and sadness. I think you could work that in somehow during the part where you’re discussing the second act. Comment [B2]: This is interesting, but I think it could do with a lead-in that helps explain how it relates to your main point. Something to help move from the introduction to this first paragraph, bridging them together. Comment [B1]: I think there’s an interesting topic statement in here somewhere, but right now I’m not seeing it that well. Why is it important that Rose gains the dominant position in the relationship? How does it relate to how women were submissive and men were dominant in the 1950s? You mention further on that Rose blossoms into a “strong and dynamic woman”. I’m wondering if maybe that’s the reason for WHY it becomes important that Rose becomes the dominant partner in her relationship with Troy.
Sinyard 2 Troy sees women at objects; he vocally expresses things he plans to do to Rose in the bedroom, and even claims that, “I eye all women. I don‟t miss nothing. Don‟t never let nobody tell you Troy Maxson don‟t eye the women,” (1.1.1990). His ideals about women branch even further, with the hints of his infidelity by his good friend Bono. Troy is an alpha, meaning he is driven to control everything in his life, even those things he can‟t control, and that shows through his treatment of his wife. Despite the way he treats his wife, Troy realizes that Rose forgives most of his faults, and loves her for it . He says “See this woman, Bono? I love this woman. I love this woman so much it hurts. I love her so much… I done run out of ways of loving her. So I got to go back to basics. Don‟t you come by my house Monday morning talking about time to go to work…‟cause I‟m still gonna be stroking!” Troy is incapable of expressing his love for her, so he must hide behind dirty innuendos and demeaning, sexualized comments towards Rose. Troy‟s treatment of women was brought upon by his troubled childhood. When Troy was eight, his mother abandoned him and his father, leaving Troy alone. Troy says about his father, “I could see why the devil had never come to get him…cause he was the devil himself.” (1.4.2012). Troy tells a possibly exaggerated story about his first sexual experiences with a girl. He explains that when his father caught him with the girl, his father beat him with the purpose of allowing himself time alone with the girl. The abandonment by his mother paired with the experience of his father attempting rape on a girl he liked just because he was an alpha shaped Troy‟s views on women and gender roles. In the second act, Troy confesses to Rose that he has been unfaithful, and furthermore, fathered a child with the woman he cheated on her with. All of Troy‟s mistakes and misgivings,
Comment [B4]: I like how you actually give reasons for why Troy acts the way he does around women. It helps to show that while he is wrong to act the way he does, his views are a product of his environment and experiences, giving at least some sort of reason for his actions.
Sinyard 3 of which were previously ignored by Rose, have come to the forefront. This confession sparked the process of role reversal between Rose and Troy. Rose‟s hurt and anger rendered Troy into a submissive position with Rose, giving her the power in the relationship. When Troy confesses to Rose, he begins explaining it by comparing his affair to a growing forest, saying “It starts out like a little bush…and the next thing you know it‟s a whole forest” (2.1.2019). Rose finally snaps, and begins expressing to Troy some of her repressed feelings, saying “Don‟t you think I ever wanted other things? Don‟t you think I had dreams and hopes? What about my life? What about me. Don‟t you think it ever crossed my mind to want to know other men?” (2.1.2021). By confessing his infidelity, Troy is pleading with Rose to keep him around. Rose also makes a second allegory to plants, saying “I planted myself inside you and waited to bloom. And it didn‟t take me no eighteen years to find out the soil was hard and rocky and it wasn‟t never gonna bloom.” Rose is revealing that she has never actually ignored or forgave Troy for his faults, but instead acknowledged them with a quiet indifference. The actual paradigm shift, where Rose gains all power of the relationship, occurs after Alberta‟s death. In Scene III, Troy pleads with Rose to help him take care of Raynell, his child. Rose replies, “From right now…this child got a mother. But you a womanless man.” Rose agrees to live with Troy and take care of his child, but that is the extent of the relationship. Instead of two women, he now has none. By fathering this child, Troy loses the most important woman in his life: Rose. Throughout the rest of the play, we see Rose bloom into a dynamic and strong woman. She invests her time taking care of Raynell and helping out at the church. She becomes her own woman, and puts Troy in his place when necessary; when Troy asks what
Comment [B7]: As I said above, to me this is the core of your paper, and I think you should focus on this. Rose becomes a strong, dynamic woman in an era when that wasn’t expected of women, and I think a lot hinges on that. Comment [B6]: I think you should add why Rose decides to take care of Raynell. I think it would help show how Rose has the strength of character to not treat an innocent child badly for the sins of her father. Comment [B5]: I like how this calls back to what you said earlier, about how she passively ignored Troy’s faults because she knew that without him she would have had a very different, potentially less safe life.
Sinyard 4 time she will be back from the church, she replies, “Ain‟t no use in you studying me. It don‟t matter what time I come back,” (2.4.2026). When someone dies, whether it is of old age or an accident, humanity has a tendency to analyze the lives of the deceased and forgive all faults that the deceased may have. In the final scene of the play, Rose makes some observations about her life with Troy and the role he had in the way she lived it. She says, “I do know he meant to do more good than he meant to do harm. He wasn‟t always right. Sometimes when he touched he bruised. And sometimes when he took me in his arms he cut,” (2.5.2033). Rose is explaining to Cory that although Troy‟s methods weren‟t always right, he always had the greater good in mind. Troy‟s alpha nature and need to control everything ended up being his demise. Rose so analyzes her own mistakes in the relationship, saying “When your daddy walked through the house he was so big he filled it up. That was my first mistake. Not to make him leave some room for me. For my part in the matter. But that that time I wanted that. I wanted a house that I could sing in. and that‟s what you daddy gave me. I didn‟t know to keep up his strength I had to give up little pieces of mine,” (2.5.2033). Rose gave Troy her entire life, and expected nothing in return except a roof over her head and a place to be safe. Women, especially African-American women, in the 1950‟s lived very menial lives. The attitude of women in that era was very much submissive. Men brought home the bacon, and women cooked and cleaned. Rose was content to live that life, as most women were, but eventually she realized that it wasn‟t enough anymore. She gave her entire life to Troy for him to just betray her. After Troy‟s death, she gave what was left of her feeling for Troy to Raynell, saying, “I‟d been blessed to relive a part of my life,” (2.5.2033).
Comment [B10]: This is another side of what I think your core point is. Namely the realization that living a completely submissive life isn’t enough, that Rose needs to also live her own life as well. Comment [B9]: This seems out of place to me; the majority of the paper so far talked about how negative Troy’s actions were. Where do we see that he had the greater good in mind? Comment [B8]: I kind of felt like I’d just taken a sharp left turn out of the blue. I think some sort of bridge to connect this with the previous paragraph would help the sudden discussion over death and funerals not “jump” out so sudden.
Sinyard 5 I really suck at writing conclusions. I plan on explicating some of my quoted passages a little more and re-write my horrible intro.
Questions for Peer Response
1. What seems to be the central idea—or argument—of the essay? Underline it and then sum it up in your own words. In what ways do you think this central idea is—or isn’t—supported by a detailed interpretation of Wilson’s Fences?
It‟s kind of hodge-podge here and there, but to me the central idea seems to be that living a submissive life in a marriage is not at all fulfilling, and that if you allow yourself to be used and pushed around you can wind up with almost no life of your own. Eventually you‟ll realize this, and you can either continue to submit, or you can stand up for yourself and either demand an equal status in your relationship or just find a life of your own. As for whether this is supported or not, I‟d say it is. Shauna clearly shows us what parts of the play reveal how unfulfilling it is, being completely submissive in a relationship, and she also shows us how fulfilling it can be to stand up for yourself.
2. What specific evidence makes the essay persuasive to you? Make at least 3 suggestions for developing the argument further, with additional evidence from the play.
I like how she shows that Rose has suffered, and how she becomes a stronger person once Troy has revealed his infidelity. As I mentioned above, I think her argument would be helped if she i. Added some more stuff about Old Blue, especially in regards to how the dog is used in the second act ii. Explained why Rose decides to take in Raynell as her own, and how it relates to her growing as a strong woman iii. Kind of expand on why Rose still thinks decently of Troy at his funeral. What exactly about him made her think that he did mean more good than harm?
3. Write a brief outline of the essay. Does it seem logically organized to you, with a clear sense of direction from beginning to end? If so, why? If not, what suggestions can you offer for rearranging?
It starts out with the introduction, explaining to us the significance to Troy‟s confession of infidelity. It then moves immediately into a discussion of Troy and his treatment of Rose in the first act, showing us how he acts as the dominant partner in their relationship. Then, it discusses how Troy‟s confession, and how Rose tried to deal with Troy‟s flaws for so many years. This part shows us how the role of dominance is transmitted to Rose. The last part discusses how Rose now acts as the dominant partner of the relationship.
I think it does have a sense of direction, as it clearly moves from point A to B to C. I don‟t think it‟s entirely clear though. I think that she needs to add bridges between these points though to help it flow more, as well as give it an overarching theme.
4. Do you see any material that you think should be deleted? If so, explain
Beyond just adding some more stuff, I don‟t really see anything that needs to be deleted.
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