Fences

Cory Maxson Character Analysis

The son of Troy and Rose, Cory embodies a hope for the future unmet by the pessimism of his father. When Cory seeks love and compassion in his relationship with Troy, it’s met with a hardened toughness, as his father believes that his relationship with his son is born out of sheer duty—not love. Raised in an era where the racism Troy experienced in his youth has, to a rather small yet significant extent, faded—and where opportunities for black lives have begun to open—Cory has an optimism about his future. Troy, however, views Cory’s career aspirations as idealistic and detached from the realities of a racist society where, for instance, he believes the white-dominated sports world will not support his son’s ambition to become a football player. August Wilson therefore casts Cory as an opposing force to Troy’s views and the values for which Troy stands, and this clash drives the story at the core of Fences. Corey also undergoes his own development over the course of the play, coming of age when he finally stands up to his father and leaves home to join the Marines, but maturing even further when at the end of the play he rethinks his plan to refuse to go to his father’s funeral. In other words, Cory must learn to stand up to his father, but also to respect the struggle his father faced that made him who he was.

Cory Maxson Quotes in Fences

The Fences quotes below are all either spoken by Cory Maxson or refer to Cory Maxson. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Blackness and Race Relations Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Plume edition of Fences published in 1986.
Act 1: Scene 1 Quotes

I told that boy about that football stuff. The white man ain’t gonna let him get nowhere with that football. I told him when he first come to me with it. Now you come telling me he done went and got more tied up in it. He ought to go and get recruited in how to fix cars or something where he can make a living.

Related Characters: Troy Maxson (speaker), Cory Maxson, Rose Maxson, Jim Bono
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 1: Scene 3 Quotes

If they got a white fellow sitting on the bench . . . you can bet your last dollar he can’t play. The colored guy got to be twice as good before he get on the team. That’s why I don’t want you to get all tied up in them sports. Man on the team and what it get him? They got colored on the team and don’t use them. Same as not having them. All them teams the same.

Related Characters: Troy Maxson (speaker), Cory Maxson
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:

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I don’t care where he coming from. The white man ain’t gonna let you get nowhere with that football noway. You go on and get your book-learning so you can work yourself up in that A&P or learn how to fix cars or build houses or something, get you a trade. That way you have something can’t nobody take away from you. You go on and learn how to put your hands to some good use. Besides hauling people’s garbage.

Related Characters: Troy Maxson (speaker), Cory Maxson
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Like you? Who the hell say I got to like you? What law is there say I got to like you? Wanna stand up in my face and ask a damn fool-ass question like that. Talking about liking somebody. . . . I go out of here every morning . . . bust my butt . . . putting up with them crackers every day . . . cause I like you? You about the biggest fool I ever saw. . . . It’s my job. It’s my responsibility! . . . A man got to take care of his family. You live in my house . . . sleep you in my bedclothes . . . fill you belly up with my food . . . cause you my son. . . . Not ‘cause I like you! Cause it’s my duty to take care of you! I owe a responsibility to you! . . . I ain’t got to like you. Mr. Rand don’t give me my money come payday cause he likes me. He gives me cause he owes me.

Related Characters: Troy Maxson (speaker), Cory Maxson
Page Number: 37-8
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 2: Scene 1 Quotes

Some people build fences to keep people out . . . and other people build fences to keep people in. Rose wants to hold on to you all. She loves you.

Related Characters: Jim Bono (speaker), Troy Maxson, Cory Maxson
Related Symbols: The Fence
Page Number: 61
Explanation and Analysis:

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I’m gonna tell you what your mistake was. See . . . you swung at the ball and didn’t hit it. That’s strike one. See, you in the batter’s box now. You swung and you missed. That’s strike one. Don’t you strike out.

Related Characters: Troy Maxson (speaker), Cory Maxson
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Act 2: Scene 4 Quotes

I’m coming in and everybody’s going out…

Related Characters: Troy Maxson (speaker), Cory Maxson, Rose Maxson, Lyons Maxson, Raynell
Related Symbols: The Fence
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Act 2: Scene 5 Quotes

The whole time I was growing up . . . living in his house . . . Papa was like a shadow that followed you everywhere. It weighed on you and sunk into your flesh. It would wrap around you and lay there until you couldn’t tell which one was you anymore. That shadow digging in your flesh. Trying to crawl in. Trying to live through you. Everywhere I looked, Troy Maxson was staring back at me . . . I’m just saying I’ve got to find a way to get rid of the shadow, Mama.

Related Characters: Cory Maxson (speaker), Troy Maxson, Rose Maxson
Page Number: 96-7
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Cory Maxson Character Timeline in Fences

The timeline below shows where the character Cory Maxson appears in Fences. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1: Scene 1
Blackness and Race Relations Theme Icon
Practicality, Idealism, and Race Theme Icon
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Rose says that Cory has been recruited by a college football team, but Troy says that he doesn’t want... (full context)
Act 1: Scene 2
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Troy then asks where Cory is, and Rose says he’s at football practice. This upsets Troy, since Cory hadn’t finished... (full context)
Act 1: Scene 3
Practicality, Idealism, and Race Theme Icon
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...down the clothes she was hanging up at the beginning of the second scene, and Cory enters the yard with his football equipment. Rose tells Cory that his father was angry... (full context)
Practicality, Idealism, and Race Theme Icon
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Angry that Cory wasn’t around earlier to help him build the fence, Troy yells at him, summoning him... (full context)
Blackness and Race Relations Theme Icon
Practicality, Idealism, and Race Theme Icon
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
After Cory returns to cutting the boards, he mentions that the Pirates won the baseball game that... (full context)
Blackness and Race Relations Theme Icon
Practicality, Idealism, and Race Theme Icon
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Troy then says that Rose informed him about Cory’s recruitment. Cory explains that a recruiter will be coming by to speak with Troy and... (full context)
Blackness and Race Relations Theme Icon
Practicality, Idealism, and Race Theme Icon
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Alarmed by his father’s harshness, Cory asks Troy why he never liked him as a son. Troy demeans this question, saying... (full context)
Blackness and Race Relations Theme Icon
Practicality, Idealism, and Race Theme Icon
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Rose enters the yard, having been listening to Troy and Cory’s conversation from behind the screen door on the porch. She asks Troy why he won’t... (full context)
Act 1: Scene 4
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...Troy and Bono engage in their payday ritual of drink and conversation. It begins as Cory gets a call from a teammate, who asks him if he can borrow some cleats.... (full context)
Blackness and Race Relations Theme Icon
Practicality, Idealism, and Race Theme Icon
After Cory leaves, Rose goes back into the house, and Troy and Bono enter the yard. Troy... (full context)
Blackness and Race Relations Theme Icon
Practicality, Idealism, and Race Theme Icon
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...left to live on his own, Rose tells Troy that she wants him to sign Cory’s football papers when the recruiter visits him next week. Troy, however, says that he found... (full context)
Act 2: Scene 1
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
The second act begins the following morning. Cory is in the yard swinging a baseball bat, trying to imitate his father’s swing, but,... (full context)
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Cory then enters the yard from the house, and Troy tells him that Bono is complaining... (full context)
Practicality, Idealism, and Race Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Frustrated with building the fence, Cory questions why Rose even wants it built in the first place. Supporting Rose, Bono replies... (full context)
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Wanting a private moment with Bono, Troy tells Cory to go into the house to get a saw. Troy asks Bono what he meant... (full context)
Practicality, Idealism, and Race Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...Maybe, she says, Troy wants to wish all their eighteen years together and their boy, Cory, away—but he can’t do that, she says, because her life is invested in him. She... (full context)
Practicality, Idealism, and Race Theme Icon
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...that he’s given her everything he’s got. Before they get into an even nastier fight, Cory enters the scene and wrestles with his father, ultimately gaining the upper hand. In response,... (full context)
Act 2: Scene 2
Practicality, Idealism, and Race Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Act 2: Scene 4
Practicality, Idealism, and Race Theme Icon
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
As Lyons heads to leave, Cory enters the scene, and Lyons apologizes for not making Cory’s graduation, explaining that he had... (full context)
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Troy enters the yard, and he and Cory eye one another; Cory puts the bat down, and exits the yard. As Troy goes... (full context)
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Cory then enters the yard, and, once again, he and Troy eye each other. Cory tries... (full context)
Practicality, Idealism, and Race Theme Icon
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Troy then tells Cory that he’s out of line—that, because he’s grown up, he suddenly thinks his father doesn’t... (full context)
Blackness and Race Relations Theme Icon
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Troy tells Cory to leave Rose out of their argument, and advances towards his son in rage. Cory... (full context)
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Cory says that he isn’t going anywhere, and swings the bat at Troy, who backs across... (full context)
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Mortality Theme Icon
Cory exits, and Troy assumes a batting stance, and starts to taunt Mr. Death. Troy shouts... (full context)
Act 2: Scene 5
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Cory enters the yard, dressed in a Marine corporal’s uniform, and August Wilson describes his posture... (full context)
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
As Rose and Cory embrace, Bono and Lyons enter the yard—they’re both impressed by Cory’s accomplishments in the military.... (full context)
Practicality, Idealism, and Race Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...help at the church where Troy’s funeral will be held, and Rose re-introduces Raynell to Cory. Rose then tells Raynell to get ready for the funeral, and they both exit into... (full context)
Practicality, Idealism, and Race Theme Icon
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Mortality Theme Icon
Cory asks if Lyons is still playing music, and Lyons says that he and some of... (full context)
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Mortality Theme Icon
Raynell re-enters the yard from the house, and says “hi” to Cory, asking him if he used to sleep in her room. Cory says yes—it used to... (full context)
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Mortality Theme Icon
Cory responds by saying that, growing up, Troy was a shadow that “weighed on you and... (full context)
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Mortality Theme Icon
Rose continues, saying that the shadow Cory mentioned was just Cory growing into himself—that it had nothing to do with Troy. She... (full context)
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...on the phone. Rose exits into the house, and Raynell once again says “hi” to Cory. She asks Cory if he knew Blue—Troy’s dog—and they both begin singing the song Troy’s... (full context)
Practicality, Idealism, and Race Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Mortality Theme Icon
Gabriel then enters the scene, and Rose, Cory, and Lyons are delighted to see him. Gabriel announces that “it’s time to tell St.... (full context)