Fences: Love, Struggle, and Family

Fences touches on many different aspects of life for African-American families in the mid 1900’s. The film is adapted from the play of the same name that was written in 1983 by August Wilson.

The film stars Viola Davis as Rose, Denzel Washington as Troy Maxson and Jovan Adepo as Cory.

Fences takes place in the Maxson’s small home and backyard. In the beginning one can feel the love but overall hardship the family is going through. As it digs deep into feelings of oppression and stagnation, the audience grows to see the depth of a woman’s love for her family but also the slow demise of a man.

Troy, the patriarch of the family, was an amazing baseball player in his younger years and didn’t get the acknowledgement he deserved because he was black, which damaged him for the rest of days.

Throughout the film Troy struggles to wear many hats. He tries to be the best father, husband, friend, and brother. There are many times throughout where he falls short of his responsibilities due to his own pride and resentment. He turns out to be his own worst enemy.

As a wife, Rose stays at home and tends to their high school-aged son Cory. She is clearly the backbone of the family, and through all of their trials and tribulations she stands strong and never gives up on them.

Cory wants nothing more than his father’s approval and to be just like him. He stays heavily involved in sports and keeps his grades up to ensure he will receive scholarships and hopefully become a professional football player. But nothing he does is good enough, and because of his father’s jealously they begin to clash.

Each member in the Maxson’s household is facing their own demons, but in the end you see the true power of family and how what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

The biggest turning point is when Troy lashes out and expresses how upset he is at his current circumstances. Rose responds in silence. At this moment he realizes that even though he’s had it hard he never stopped to consider that she’s been by his side, going through the motions with him, out of love for her family.

The film depicts the harsh realities of many African-Americans during the time the film takes place. There were talented black athletes who were unable to go to the major leagues, there were black women who stayed in bad situations because they had no other choice, and black families overall who were stuck with no room to advance just because of the color of their skin. Though they go through hell and back, in the end they make it through.

The “fence” seems to symbolize holding a family together, giving it structure, and keeping those you love on the inside closest to you.

Fences is still showing, so be sure to check out your local movie theaters.

 

jclark@unews.com

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