Rose as a Powerful Dramatic Character in Fences

Rose is the most powerful dramatic character in Fences. She has her own ways of coping with and enduring the layers of anxieties and suffering resulting from the racial discrimination and patriarchal domination. Her ability to cope with her husband's anxieties, his betrayal and her response to Raynell's arrival at her home and the way she tries to manipulate her son's sympathy and respect for Troy are the elements in the play that present her as the most dramatic character.

August Wilson (1945-2005)

Troy lived at a time when blacks in America were not able to enjoy the same opportunities as the whites. The blacks were barred from participation in different political, cultural and social activities. This discrimination made Troy internalize the racial oppression practiced by the whites against the blacks. It is the major cause of frustration in his life. He has lived the life of missed opportunities and is much despaired because of it. Rose is such a motherly figure that she has always been beside him when he is preoccupied with the idea of death and the devil. It is the expression of his agony and struggle for life and self-assertion. In such difficult circumstances Rose feels deeply for him and asks him not to talk about death and the devil. Her emotional support for Troy is unparalleled. When Lyons comes to her house, she treats him in a loving way though she knows that she is her stepson. Troy calls him a nigger on the street but she is very affectionate towards him. It is her greatness as a woman and a mother. Any other woman would have reacted very differently under such circumstances. Words are not enough to talk about her benevolence. When she finds Gabriel suffering she knows that her husband is responsible for it. She tells him frankly that his carelessness and indifference were responsible for what Gabriel was. The Maxson family is suffering because of the social discrimination practiced by whites. Within the family, she suffers as a female. She is thus a victim of double oppression. Under such circumstances her power to endure is remarkable. Her husband is not loyal to her. He has relation with others as well. She has planted her hopes and dreams in him, but he has proved to be rocky and infertile. Despite this, she doesn't desert him. She expresses her anger and pain openly, but doesn't nurture any bitterness. There is a spiritual side to her personality. She is a saint in human form.

Rose builds fences not for keeping people outside, but to have them near her. Fences in her case stand for protection and love. She accepts Raynell though the baby is the outcome of her husband's betrayal. The innocent baby has lost her mother, but she finds another mother in Rose. No woman can accept her husband's illegitimate child. Therein lies her greatness. It is a great sacrifice that a married woman can make Rose nurtures the baby because the innocent child stands for the hope of better future and society. Given her husband's betrayal and deception, she should be punishing him severely and leaving him. But no such things happen. Troy and Cory had always had a tensed relation. The father tries to mold his son the way he himself was trained and conditioned. The son, too, cannot understand the father's point of view. He hates his father and shows disrespect towards him. He is not even willing to attend his father's funeral. Rose persuades her son to show respect for his father. After all, he is Cory's father and should respect him and hold him in awe. Because of these virtues and ability for endurance she is the most powerful dramatic character in the play.