From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.



by August Wilson

Fences Act 1, Scene 2 Summary

  • Lights rise on Rose hanging laundry and singing to herself, "Jesus, be a fence all around me every day" (1.2.2).
  • Troy enters from the house.
  • Rose asks if he's ready for breakfast.
  • He tells her he's already put the coffee on, and that's all he wants.
  • Rose tells him that Miss Pearl won a little money in the lottery the other day. She complains that the people who really need it never win.
  • Troy tells her she shouldn't mess around with the numbers – it's a waste of time.
  • Rose points out that a guy named Pope bought a restaurant out of the money he won.
  • Her husband talks about how Pope always gives the best food to white people.
  • Rose implies that he's just bringing that up because he's worried about what happened at work on Friday (when Troy complained about the racial inequality).
  • Troy ignores her and asks where their son Cory is.
  • Rose says the boy went out.
  • Troy complains that Cory is just trying to avoid helping him with the fence they're supposed to be building.
  • Gabriel comes down the alleyway. He hears Troy's voice and stops.
  • Rose tells Troy that Cory went in for some extra football practice.
  • Troy gets mad because Cory hasn't done his chores.
  • Rose tells her husband to stop complaining about everything.
  • Troy sees Gabriel in the alleyway. Stage directions tell us that Gabriel is Troy's brother.
  • He's got a metal plate in his head from injury he got in WWII. He now thinks he is the archangel Gabriel.
  • Gabriel has an old trumpet strung around his neck and is carrying a basket full of fruits and vegetables.
  • He starts to sing that he's got plums for sale.
  • Rose asks him what's in the basket.
  • It turns out Gabriel doesn't actually have any plums; he just likes to sing about them.
  • He says that tomorrow he'll have enough plums "for St. Peter and everybody" (1.2.38).
  • He thinks Troy is mad at him because he moved out of the house to live in Ms. Pearl's basement.
  • Troy says he's not mad at all.
  • Gabriel brags that he's got two rooms and his own door. He proudly shows off his key.
  • Rose asks if he wants some breakfast.
  • He tells her he just wants some biscuits.
  • He says that when he was in heaven, he and St. Peter ate biscuits every day.
  • Sometimes St. Peter would go off and sleep, telling Gabriel to wake him up if Judgment Day came.
  • Rose leaves, saying she'll make Gabriel some biscuits.
  • Gabriel tells his brother that he saw his name in St. Peter's book.
  • Troy tells him to go inside and eat.
  • Gabriel says he already ate with Aunt Jemima.
  • He tells Troy that he sold some tomatoes and now he has two quarters.
  • Soon he'll buy a new horn so that St. Peter can find him on Judgment Day.
  • Gabriel stops suddenly, thinking he hears some hell hounds.
  • He runs off after them, singing about Judgment Day.
  • Rose reenters. She says that Gabriel ought to be in a hospital, where they can take care of him properly.
  • Troy says Gabriel shouldn't be locked up.
  • He complains that his brother got half his head shot off in the war and only got three thousand dollars afterward.
  • Troy used that money to buy his house and seems to feel guilty about it.
  • Rose says he shouldn't feel bad; he took care of Gabe in the house as long Gabe wanted to be taken care of.
  • Troy starts to head out of the yard.
  • His wife asks him why he's been going off every Saturday, especially since he's supposed to be working on the fence.
  • Troy says he's going to a place called Taylors' and that he'll finish the fence later.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...