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Elusive Perfection in Wilson’s Fences

The play, ‘Fences’, presents a slice of life in a black tenement and is set in the late 1950’s, through 1965. The main character, Troy Maxson, is a garbage collector. Throughout the play he rebels and frustrates as he struggles for fairness in a society which seems to offer none. His actions and behavior towards his family can be interpreted by a reader as those of a violent and bad father. However, soon one notices that beneath a mask of cruelty and toughness there is an individual who takes responsibility for his family no matter how difficult circumstances may seem. Hence, he is a good father who tries to keep his family together and provide necessities for them.

As one reads the play, he or she starts to criticize Troy Maxson?s behavior as of a patronizing person. However, if a reader analyzes the situation he was in he or she wouldn?t be so stern in his judgements. In my view he is not a bad father, simply his life experiences have shaped his personality. Through his behavior and acts he wants to pass on to his family the right principles for living, which will guide them through their lives. Troy?s oldest son, Lyons who is thirty-four, fancies himself as a musician. Troy realizes that his son is becoming more and more caught up in the idea of being a musician and is in constant need of money. He is reluctant to loan his son money when he needs it because he wants him to be able to support himself by having a decent job. It is shown when he says, ?I don?t know why he don?t go and get him a decent job and take care of that woman he got.? Troy tries to be a good father but he uses an old-fashioned approach when he tries to explain to his sons how to make it in the real world. He doesn?t …

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… was skeptical about Troy?s ways and behavior. However, as I continued reading the story about his hardship, I quickly realized that there is not just one way to be right. While his ways were somewhat antiquated, they were nonetheless effective. I can even identify with Troy?s character as he reminds me of my dad and how protective he was of my sister and I. I would like to believe that we are now better off because of the way he handled us. While I often questioned my dad?s motives, I now understand why he did the certain things he did. Troy?s family will eventually realize that he only wishes the best for them. I think this story emphasizes the fact that no one is perfect. No one needs to be perfect. We all need to realize that; after all, none of us are perfect.

Works Cited:

Wilson, August. Fences. New York: Plume/New American Library, 1986.

Reconciliation of Opposites in Emerson’s Fate

Reconciliation of Opposites in Emerson’s Fate

Emerson’s Fate is full of interesting ideas. Fate is the absence of chaos. It is rendered void by the intellect; it is the laws of the world and a name for “causes which are unpenetrated”.

Emerson explains Fate through nature. “Nature magically suits the man to his fortunes” (1118). Society, slouching in its custom-made “civilization”, looks down on nature and it’s cruel and nonsensical disposition. Emerson even states, “Nature is no sentimentalist…the world is rough and surly, and will not mind drowning a man or woman; but will swallow your ship like a grain of dust. The diseases, the elements, fortune, gravity, lightning, respect no persons” (1105). But Emerson pushes beyond the contradiction of “civilized society” versus “savage wilderness”, and shows how the very essence of existence—the patterns of life—are displayed and enacted perfectly in nature. For example, forrest fires which scorch hundreds of acres upon acres of life, are essential in the cycle of growth. Life grows out of that devistation. Fate, then, being the idea that nothing happens by “chance” and everything in interconnected, is embodied in nature’s processes. He states, “Wonderful intricacy in the web, wonderful constancy in the design this vagabond life admits” (1120). The web is the web of life; a metaphor often associated with Native American spirituality depicting the interconnectedness of all life.

There is paradox within Emerson’s description of Fate. The first definition of Fate is that it is the “laws of the world”. Laws are limits. Limits contrain freedom. To believe in Fate, then, is to sacrifice the liberty which Emerson defines as “the significance of the individual, the grandeur of d…

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…unknown and to put trust into something completly intangible. Accepting the idea of Fate has nothing to do with Christianity, but the ability to rest assured that your entire life and the rest of the universe will occur the way they are suppose to takes the same faith as confiding in any religion.

Emerson’s reaction to the cycle of knowledge versus freedom versus Fate comes through the “reconciliation of opposites”. He states, “But our geometry cannot span these extreme points, and reconcile them. What to do? By obeying each thought frankly, by harping, or, if you will, pounding on each string, we learn at last its powers” (1104). What are we to do? There are two quotes from Emerson that help sooth this abbrasion: “the riddle of the age has for each a private solution” (1104); “When there is something to be done, the world knows how to get it done” (1117).

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