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The Contradictories And Complexities In Troy Maxson

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            The contradictories and complexities in Troy Maxson’s persona are evidenced in the intricate relationships he shares with the people populating his life. Each of these characters evoke a significant part of Troy’s true nature as he struggles with the interweaving roles he plays as father, husband, brother, friend and lover. Troy’s dualistic tendency is manifest foremost in his binary history. Born of Southern parents he embodies the conservative and, at times, pessimistic thinking of his oppressed Black predecessors. Troy displays obdurate resignation and cynicism to his tragic fate as a failed Negro League player. On the other hand, Troy also exudes hopeful determination in chasing after the promised life in the New Land. Troy migrates to the North in the hope of pursuing his share of the American dream.

            From the eyes of his wife Rose, the viewers glimpse an eccentric husband figure. Rose knows that Troy is fond of dabbling in self-propagated fantasy. In Act One Scene One  Troy imaginatively recollects his near-death brush with the devil. Rose corrects his misinterpretation of reality but he keeps on insisting his own version of the truth. At this point, Troy’s obdurate resistance to hear other people’s opinions and decisions is eminent.

Embittered by the difficulties of racial discrimination, Troy stubbornly holds on to his cherished preconceptions, no matter how inconsistent or limiting they may be. Far from the pragmatic and sensible image he portrays later on with his pompous criticism of Rose’ fascination for the lottery, Troy is also capable of foolish dawdling. Bono and Rose are aware of Troy’s penchant for escapism. Not only does he lavish on fatuous day dreaming but he is also fond of drinking and womanizing. Bono and Troy’s favorite past time revolves around  blissful intoxications and self-pity. In addition, Troy luxuriates in the illicit company of his mistress, Alberta. When he finally comes clean to his wife he justifies his immoral act as his way of channeling his frustrations in his career. Troy reasons out that being with another woman gives him the freedom to rebel against their stagnant life. He excuses himself saying that his extramarital affairs provide him the fulfillment he is deprived of because of his skin color. Rose, then accuses him of being a self-absorbed ninny who takes and takes but never gives anything in return. Rose’s claims shed light to Troy’s indifference to his son’s dreams and his outright stalling of completing the fences. Rose’s request for a fence is symbolic of her loving care for her family. As the homemaker, she guarantees the comfort and security of her home. For Troy, however, the act of fence building takes on a different meaning. Instead of providing warmth, protection and love to his family he distances himself away from them. Indirectly and unconsciously, he builds not just a fence but a wall around himself through his self-destructive ways.

             Troy’s stiff refusal to give Cory permission to play professional football is also contradictory. Some may interpret it as jealousy; others as fatherly compulsion to protect his son from the harshness of the real world.  If we parallel this with his unsupportive feelings regarding Lyon’s musical dreams we can draw out Troy’s disillusioned side. Troy’s failures in his thwarted baseball career affected his capacity to believe. Forever deprived of achieving  his greatest dream in life, Troy suppresses his son’s desires early on to prevent him from further disappointments. Troy’s perception of the world remains unchanged. Unlike Cory, he feels that his son don’t stand a chance in professional sports because that is just what happened to him. Troy’s refusal to give in to social changes widens the wall that separates him from his son. Despite of Troy’s struggle to escape the impoverished past of his parents’ social milieu he is still mired by their groveling philosophy. Troy wants Cory to continue working for A&P instead of going into football training after school because he believes that the former provides better job stability.  Conversely, he risks his job to stand up to the inequity in the Sanitation Department.  Troy prevents his sons from going after their ambitions yet; he himself aspires to banish the limitations set against people of color. It is confusing how Troy unintentionally constructs a wall around himself which unfortunately disconnects his loved ones but at the same time he fights to break the barrier that separates the Blacks from the rest of the society.

            By passing on to Cory his disillusioned perception of life he is guilty of trammeling his son’s future. When Cory was born Troy swears that he will never allow his son to undergo the same disappointments he did. This mirrors the conflicting decision of parents to lead their son’s life for them.  As a young boy Troy detests his father’s rigid manipulation of his life but when he got older and has a family of his own he inadvertently repeated the same mistakes his father did. Troy laments how his father treated women cruelly yet he keeps doing the same thing to his wife. Since Troy grew up motherless one would think he knows better about marriage still he cheats on her, treats her coldly and looks upon her.  This elucidates that Troy’s ostentatious display of responsibility and practicality is brittle.  Faced with the futility of his career Troy carelessly sins against the woman who stayed with him for 18 years despite of their dormant existence as a couple. It appears that Troy channels his frustrations towards his family. He imposes upon Cory his own narrow minded point of view. He lashes out violently with Rose upon learning of his inadvertent betrayal of Gabe. Coming from a man who speaks highly of being sensible Troy’s behavior towards others is twisted.  According to Rose’s perception of Troy his hypocritical insensitivity and selfishness makes him the way he is.

            Troy’s self-serving obsession is seen mostly in his life at work. Troy’s valiant action to assert Black men’s rights in driving garbage trucks at the risk of his losing job speaks highly of him. Though personally driven, his courageous conviction still benefits his co-workers. At his best, Troy champions the cause of the African American people. His adamant motion to instigate change in their workforce enunciates the strength of his will and spirit. In spite of his resigned approach to stifle Cory’s ambitions he still manages to hope that he can do something to improve the conditions of Black garbage collectors like him.

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