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Fences Act 1, Scene 4 Summary
Stage directions tell us that it's two weeks later on a Friday. Cory starts out of the house, carrying his football equipment. The phone rings and Cory answers. It's a guy named Jesse who wants to borrow Cory's spikes (football shoes). Cory tells his friend that his old spikes aren't any good. Rose yells to Cory, telling him to clean up his room. Cory yells back that he has to go to the game. He says he'll clean his room when he gets back, then runs off. Rose worries about what Troy will say if he sees Cory's messy room. Troy and Bono enter. Stage directions tell us that Troy is wearing something other than his work uniform. Apparently he was called down to the Commissioner's office because of his complaint. Bono observes that Troy ran down to Taylors' to tell Alberta about it. Troy says he just went down there to cash his check. His friend seems unconvinced. Troy yells for his wife. She tells him not to holler at her like that. Troy says a woman is supposed to come when she's called. Rose replies that she doesn't have to come like a dog. Her husband says he used to have a dog named Blue, who never came when called. He starts to sing a little ditty about Blue. Rose tells him that nobody wants to hear him sing. She recalls that Cory used to sing the song when he was little. Troy says his daddy used to sing the song. Rose tells him she still doesn't want to hear it. She says things must have gone well at the Commissioner's office, or else Troy wouldn't be in such a good mood. Troy proudly announces that they've made him a driver. Rose seems happy for him. Lyons enters. Troy acts like he isn't happy to see his son. He says that he thought Lyons would be in jail, since a place where Lyons plays music got raided by the police. Lyons says he was just playing music, not gambling. Rose tells Lyons he should have brought his lady friend Bonnie over. He says he was just in the neighborhood. Troy predicts that Lyons is about to ask him for money. Rose tells Lyons about Troy's promotion. Troy is going to be the first black driver. Bono points out that Troy doesn't have a driver's license. Troy doesn't seem to be bothered by this; by the time his boss, Mr. Rand, finds that out, he'll have one. Lyons tries to pay Troy back the ten dollars he borrowed. Troy stubbornly refuses to take the money, saying that Lyons should keep it for the next time he wants to borrow money. Lyons gives the money to Rose. Gabriel enters, singing about Judgment Day. He gives a rose to Rose. Proudly, he tells them that he's spent the day chasing hell hounds. He's trying to make sure that everything is ready for the Battle of Armageddon. Rose offers everybody some food. Gabe says he wants a sandwich. Lyons says he doesn't want to eat before he goes to play music tonight. He invites Troy to come listen. Troy says he doesn't like the kind of music Lyons plays. Gabriel tells Lyons that Troy is mad at him. Lyons asks what that's all about. Rose replies that Gabe thinks Troy is mad because Gabe moved to Ms. Pearl's. Troy says he's not mad at all, but implies that it sucks that Gabe is no longer around to help with rent. Rose says she doesn't want to hear about it anymore. Gabe asks if he can have the sandwich now. As Rose exits, she tells her husband he should sign the paper to let Cory play football. Troy is determined not to sign. He says Cory has been lying to him; he hasn't kept his job at the A&P at all – not even on the weekends. Troy says that once a boy is old enough to disobey his father, it's time to move on. Bono says he never got a chance to disobey his father because he never knew the man. Troy wishes he had never known his father, because he was selfish and mean. He says all his father lived for was the cotton crop. Even though his father was hard on him, Troy recognizes that the man felt a duty to his family. He thinks his father probably felt trapped by this sense of duty. Even so, says Troy, his daddy was straight-up evil. The man was so bad that Troy's mother left when he was a little boy and never came back. Troy talks about the day he left home. He was 14 and had started to take an interest in Joe Canewell's daughter. His daddy had told him to go plow a field with a mule named Greyboy. Instead, Troy tied up the mule and went to make out with Joe Canewell's daughter by a stream. Greyboy got loose and wandered back to the house, so Troy's father came looking for him. He found Troy and the girl by the stream. Troy's father started whipping him with the leather straps from the mule. At first Troy thought his daddy was just mad at him for not doing his work. He was about to run off when he realized that his father just wanted the girl for himself. Troy lost all fear of his daddy when he figured that out. He picked up the same strap his father had just beat him with and started whipping on him. The girl ran away. Troy's daddy beat him senseless after that. When Troy woke up, his eyes were swollen shut. The dog named Blue was licking his face. Troy says this was the moment he realized he had to leave his father's house. Gabriel enters, eating a ham sandwich. Troy says he walked all the way from the creek bed to Mobile, two hundred miles away. Rose calls from the house saying that Bonnie called for Lyons, wanting him to pick her up. Troy talks about how he walked from Mobile to the city they now live in, looking for work. (Note: The play is set in Pittsburgh, though none of the characters ever says so specifically.) When Troy got to Pittsburgh, he couldn't find a job. He lived on the riverbank in a shack made of tar paper and sticks. There were a lot of other black people living there as well. Troy started stealing to survive. At first he just stole food, but then he started stealing money as well. During that time he met Lyons's mother. Before too long, Lyons came into the world. Troy recognizes that it was a bad idea to have a kid when he could barely feed himself. One day he tried to rob a man. The man shot Troy in the chest and Troy killed him with a knife. Troy ended up spending fifteen years in prison. This is where he met Bono and learned to play baseball. Troy says prison totally cured him wanting to rob people. He met Rose after he got out. Troy says he told Rose that the only two things he cared about were her and baseball. He says he told her that baseball was the important thing, but that if she stuck around eventually it would be her. Rose calls him out, saying that he told her she was the most important thing. Lyons says he has to go. He asks Troy to come watch him play that evening. Troy makes a bunch of excuses. Lyons exits. Troy asks Rose what's for dinner. He makes some sexually suggestive remarks. Rose tells him not to talk like that. Bono exits, saying he's got to get home to his wife. Cory enters. He seems really pissed off. The boy throws his football helmet in Troy's direction. It seems that Troy told Cory's coach that Cory couldn't play football anymore. Troy also told the coach to tell the college recruiter not to come. Rose tells Troy that he ought to let Cory play football. Troy accuses Cory of lying to him – he hasn't kept up with his chores, and he hasn't kept his job at the A&P. Cory tells Troy that he never listens; he says that his boss, Mr. Stawicki, is holding his job for him until after the season. Cory accuses his father of purposely holding him back out of jealousy. Troy tells his son that now he's got one strike. He warns the boy not to strike out.
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