The Different Meaning of the Metaphor in Fences, a Play by August Wilson

In the play “Fences” by August Wilson, depending on who you are talking to the metaphor may have a different meaning. Fences are a symbol for control and protection. Depending on the story they can symbolize a feeling of being restrained or a desire to block one’s self off from the rest of the world.

To Rose, the fence is a metaphor for control. The fence allows her to keep her family close and have more of a relationship with them.

She longs for the day when the fence will be completed. But on page 1443, line 25 Rose expresses some frustration with her life. She says, “What about me? When’s my time to enjoy life?” which shows how she feels boxed in – as if this fence could be a metaphor for her lack of freedom as well. However, the true irony sets in when Troy dies and Rose has nothing but herself and her children behind the wall. She is then a prisoner in her own world.

To Troy, the fence is a metaphor for protection. It allows him to keep his family safe whilst keeping his secrets (and affair) outside the fence. However, it can be noted that Troy hesitates to build the fence. This is because he is afraid of being fenced in. He wants to keep his secrets safe but struggles with himself wanting to be free at the same time. On page 1444, Troy talks about challenging death and how he’s going to use his fence to do that.

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He’s scared but at the same time engaged in protecting what’s “his”. His family and children will be safe inside the fence after he is gone.

To Rose and Troy the fence means two different things. To Rose, the fence is more positive. It can help her to keep her family close but to Troy, it’s a preservation mechanism to keep his wife and children with him and keep them safe.

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The Different Meaning of the Metaphor in Fences, a Play by August Wilson. (2022, May 09). Retrieved from

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