Study Guide

Fences Betrayal

By August Wilson


Bono: "I see where you be eyeing her." (1.1.20)

This is the first we learn of Troy's relationship with Alberta. What begins as a flirtation at a bar leads to a betrayal that destroys Troy's marriage. By betraying his wife, Troy loses the family he cherishes.

Bono: "It's all right to buy her one drink. That's what you call being polite. But when you wanna be buying two or three...that's what you call eyeing her." (1.1.24)

This line raises an interesting question: at what point does cheating start? If Troy is into Alberta, why would one drink be different than two or three? Aren't the feelings behind the drinks the real betrayal? We bet Maury would know the answer, but since he's not around we'll have to wonder for ourselves.

Troy: "Look here, as long you known ever known me to chase after women?"
Bono: "Hell yeah! Long as I done known you. You forgetting I knew you when.
Troy: "Naw, I'm talking about since I been married to Rose"
Bono: "Oh, not since you been married to Rose." (1.1.25-1.1.24)

It looks like Troy used to be a real ladies' man. However, Bono recognizes that he's been a good boy since he got married. So what's the deal now, Troy? What's with this whole Alberta thing?

Bono: "I see you be walking up around Alberta's house. You supposed to be at Taylors' and you be walking up around there." (1.1.30)

Uh oh, not only is Troy buying drinks for sexy Alberta, he's also walking around her house. It seems Bono is hinting that Troy's relationship with Alberta has already gone past a few friendly drinks at the bar.

Rose: "Where you going off to? You been running out of here every Saturday for weeks. . . ."
Troy: "I'm gonna walk down to Taylors'. Listen to the ball game." (1.2.70)

We think there's a high probability that Troy is lying to Rose here. There's a good chance Troy has actually been going off to Alberta's place "every Saturday for weeks." Do you think Rose suspects that her husband is cheating on her?

Rose: "What was the score on the game? Lucille had me on the phone and I couldn't keep up with it."
Troy: "What I care about the game? . . ."
Rose: "I thought you went down Taylors' to listen to the game." (1.3.12-1.3.14)

Uh huh, even more suspicious. If Troy was down at the bar watching the game, why doesn't he know the score? Yep, it seems to us like he's hiding something.

Bono: "When you picked Rose, I was happy for you. That was the first time I knew you had any sense. I said...My man Troy knows what he's doing...I'm gonna follow this n*****...he might take me somewhere." (2.1.38)

It's almost like Bono feels personally betrayed by Troy's affair with Alberta. Here he admits that he first came to truly respect Troy when Troy chose Rose over all the other ladies back in the day. Perhaps this is why Bono and Troy's friendship gets totally messed up by the end of the play, when the full truth of the affair comes out.

Troy: "I don't know how to say this....I can't explain it none. It just sort of grows on you till it gets out of hand. It starts out like a little bush...and the next thing you know it's a whole forest." (2.1.27)

Oh, snap, here it comes: Troy is about to tell Rose about his affair with Alberta. What do you think – is this pretty line about flowers and forests going to soften the blow?

Troy: "I'm trying to find a way to tell you...I'm gonna be a daddy. I'm gonna be somebody's daddy." (2.1.79)

What!? He wasn't kidding that his affair got out of hand. Not only did he cheat on his wife, he went fathered a child with somebody else. Wilson really keeps the surprises coming with this revelation. We pretty much knew there was an affair going on, but we had no idea about this.

Rose: "I said send [Gabe] to the said let him be you done went down there and signed him to the hospital for half his money. You went back on yourself, Troy. You gonna have to answer for that." (2.2.31)

Rose feels like Troy has betrayed his brother Gabriel by putting him into a mental institution. She originally thought it was a good idea, but Troy argued that his brother should be free. Even though she might ultimately think that Gabe is safer in the hospital, Troy has once again disappointed her by going back on his word. Troy denies that he knew what he was signing when he put Gabe away, but Rose doesn't buy it. What do you think? Does Troy betray his brother for the money?