Fences Academic Piece

Troy has a large negative effect on Cory’s life, but it’s unlikely that he means to be this bad, and it’s probably just an effect of him treating Cory the same way that his own father and others from his childhood did.

On page 8, Troy tells Rose that “The white man ain’t gonna let (Cory) get nowhere with that football. I told him when he first come to me with it. Now you come telling me he done went and got more tied up in it. He ought to go and get recruited in how to fix cars or something where he can make a living.” This quote displays Troy’s motive for suppressing Cory’s ambitions. It’s obvious from this that he had a sort of falling out with white men as a younger man, and still resents that. This is clarified through a quote on the next page, where he states “Selkirk! That’s it? Man batting .269, understand? .269. What kind of sense that make? I was batting .432 with thirty-seven home runs!” And on the page after that he states “Hell, I know some teams Jackie Robinson couldn’t even make! What you talking about Jackie Robinson. Jackie Robinson wasn’t nobody. I’m talking about if you could play ball then they ought to have let you play. Don’t care what color you were. Come telling me I come too early If you could play then they ought to have let you play.” Through all of this we can see that Troy doesn’t think that Cory will have a chance in sports because of the impression he had as a kid of it being so segregated. 

Troy also disregards Cory’s arguments for why he should be allowed to go to Football practice. On page 35, Cory and Troy are arguing about Cory’s future. “Cory: Coach Zellman say the recruiter gonna be coming by to talk to you. Get you to sign the permission papers.
Troy: I thought you supposed to be working down there at the A&P. Ain’t you supposed to be working there after school?
Cory: Mr. Stawicki say he gonna hold my job for me until after the football season. Say starting next week I can work weekends.
Troy: I thought we had an understanding about this football stuff? You suppose to keep up with your chores and hold that job down at the A&P. Ain’t been around here all day on a Saturday. Ain’t none of your chores done… And now you telling me you done quit your job.
Cory: I’m gonna be working weekends.
Troy: You damn right you are! And ain’t no need for nobody coming around here to talk to me about signing nothing.”
While Troy does seem to have an argument, even if it isn’t that strong, he does disregard some of the stuff that Cory tells him, like when he completely disregards when Cory tells him that Mr. Stawicki is holding his job and that he’s still going to work on weekends, and starts yelling about how “you done quit your job.” It’s almost like he’s only taking in what he wants to hear. This is a big sign towards an ulterior motive, which could easily be his previous bias against the white folk and sports.

And finally, the last piece of the puzzle. When Troy realizes that he can’t convince Cory to give up football, he flat out goes behind his back and destroys any chance of him getting on the team. This is shown on page 57.
“Rose: What’s the matter? Cory … What’s the matter?
Cory: Papa done went up to the school and told Coach Zellman I can’t play football no more. Wouldn’t even let me play the game. Told him to tell the recruiter not to come.
Rose: Troy…
Troy: What you Troying me for. Yeah, I did it. And the boy know why I did it.
Cory: Why you wanna do that to me? That was the one chance I had.
Rose: Ain’t nothing wrong with Cort playing football, Troy.
Troy: The boy lied to me. I told the nigger if he wanna play football … to keep up his chores and hold down that job at the A&P. That was the conditions. Stopped down there to see Mr. Stawicki…
Cory: I can’t work after school during the football season, pop! I tried to tell you that Mr. Stawicki’s holding my job for me. You don’t never want to listen to nobody. And then you wanna go do this to me!
Troy: I ain’t done nothing to you. You done it to yourself.”
Cory then says a key line that helps verify all of this. Troy responds with a stern talk.
“Cory: Just cause you didn’t have a chance! You just scared I’m gonna be better than you, that’s all
Troy: I’m gonna tell you what your mistake was. See… you swung at the ball and didn’t hit it. That’s strike one. See, you in the batter’s box now. You swung and you missed. That’s strike one. Don’t you strike out!”
Troy’s statement after Cory’s revealing comment shows that deep down, even Troy knows that he’s envious that Cory has a chance at sports when he didn’t. If Troy didn’t believe this, he probably would’ve acted a whole lot differently.

These pieces of information are the reasons that I think Troy suppresses Cory so much over the book. It can be viewed as a mixture of bad childhood memories, jealousy, and fear. You almost have to feel sorry for Troy. He has obviously been through a lot of pain, but he’s let it get the better of him and makes his son miserable too, and that’s inexcusable.