Study Guide

Fences Duty

By August Wilson


There's lots of discussion about duty in Fences. Most of this involves the duty of a father to his family. Troy Maxson, the play's protagonist, seems to think that a father's only real duty is to provide food and shelter. He doesn't think it's important for a father to show love to his son, and he doesn't feel his duties to his wife include fidelity. Troy has an affair, but doesn't believe it's necessarily wrong. He's provided for his wife and loves her, but his love now includes someone else. Though Troy fulfills his own idea of his duties to his family, others may question this. What do you think? What does a father and husband owe his family? What is he required to give?

Questions About Duty

  1. What does Troy see as his central duty to his family?
  2. Does Troy fail in his duties? Why or why not?
  3. What does Troy see as his family's duties to him? What does he expect of Cory? Of Rose?

Chew on This

Troy inherited his sense of familial duty from his father.

Troy doesn't feel any duty to love his children.