Fences

Fences Act 2: Scene 2 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The second scene occurs six months later; Troy enters the yard from the house and, before he can leave, Rose appears from inside, and says she wants to talk. Troy asks her why, after months of not communicating, she suddenly wants to speak with him. Rose, wanting to reach out to her husband, responds by saying that she wants Troy to come home tomorrow, Friday—straight home, to her, and not anywhere or anybody else. But Troy dismisses her sincere plea, saying that he always comes home after work, and further: since Friday is his payday, he’ll want to cash his check and hang out at the local bar with his friends.
Rose tries to reach out one last time to Troy, and see if he’ll re-commit himself to her and their relationship with fidelity. We can assume that, for the past six months, Troy has continued his relationship with Alberta, refusing to re-cultivate his monogamy with Rose. By asking Troy to come straight home to her, Rose is simply asking for his devotion again, his sincere commitment to the cause of their relationship, but Troy, as usual, disregards her concern.
Themes
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Rose tells Troy that she can’t keep living like this—alone, distanced from her husband, always wondering where he is (and imagining that he’s always with Alberta). But he continues to reject her concerns, and insists that he comes home every night, missing Rose’s whole point (that she wants him to prioritize coming straight home, to her and her alone). She then asks him, powerfully, “What about me? When’s my time to enjoy life?”
Rose is reaching her wit’s end in being able to tolerate Troy’s continued relationship with Alberta, and Troy persists in his utter disregard for Rose’s feelings, dashing over the nuance of what she’s saying by insisting that he always comes home (eventually). By asking the powerful question about her own enjoyment, Rose continues to affirm herself in the face of Troy’s disregard.
Themes
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Troy, still resisting any genuine communication with Rose, says that he’s on his way to see Alberta at the hospital, since it looks like she’s going to have the baby early. Rose then tells him that Gabe has been institutionalized—locked up in a psychiatric ward—and that she read in the newspaper that Troy arranged it all. But Troy denies any involvement in Gabe’s detainment, and says that the newspaper is lying. Rose accuses Troy of treating Gabe just like he treated Cory—he betrayed them both. Whereas Troy wouldn’t sign Cory’s recruitment papers, he was willing to sign the papers for Gabe’s hospitalization. Rose adds that Troy will profit from sending Gabe away, since he’ll get half of his brother’s money.
Troy’s hypocrisy emerges again here: after all the time he spent defending Gabe against Rose’s opinion that it would be good for him to be institutionalized, Troy has finally caved in on his advocacy for Gabe’s freedom—the motivation being money. Troy, at this point, seems to have just about betrayed everyone around him except Bono. Troy’s signing of Gabe’s hospital papers is ironic, as it signs Gabe into a lack of freedom, whereas not signing Cory’s recruitment papers had something of a similar effect: of limiting Cory’s future horizons.
Themes
Practicality, Idealism, and Race Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
The telephone inside Troy and Rose’s home rings, and Rose goes to answer it. She returns, and we learn that it was the hospital calling: Alberta died during childbirth. The baby—a girl—is okay, and healthy. Rose says she wonders who will bury Alberta, and Troy accuses her of being petty, caring only about whether Alberta had insurance. But Rose denies meaning anything of the sort. She then asserts herself, telling Troy, “I am your wife. Don’t push me away.”
Troy’s accusation of Rose—that she’s petty—is ironically hypocritical, and another demonstration of his ability to fundamentally sever himself from the reality around him, and proclaim himself to be the one in the right—the one who’s worked the hardest and been the most virtuous.
Themes
Practicality, Idealism, and Race Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
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Troy responds by saying that he’s not pushing anyone away, and asks Rose to give him some room to breathe and process Alberta’s death. Rose leaves, and Troy addresses Mr. Death. Speaking to his own personified phantom of death, Troy challenges Mr. Death, saying that he’s going to build a fence around his yard to keep him out, and that Death had better bring his army and wrestling clothes. Troy says that their fight is between them, and nobody else, and that when Death is ready for him, he should come and knock on Troy’s front door.
Troy’s tendency towards fantasizing about death resurfaces here—unable to accept that Alberta died due to chance circumstances pertaining to childbirth (and also that, by impregnating her, Troy played some role in her death), Troy projects a sinister, personified form onto a figure of death who has personal motivations and consciously interferes in Troy’s life to make it more difficult.
Themes
Practicality, Idealism, and Race Theme Icon
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Mortality Theme Icon