Fences

Lyons Maxson Character Analysis

The son to Troy and his former, unnamed wife (prior to Rose), Lyons strives, against the wishes of his father, to be a professional musician. While Lyons claims to be fundamentally dedicated to music—while he claims that music is the only reason he gets out of bed every morning—August Wilson writes, in a note in the script, that Lyons is more obsessed with the idea of being a musician than with the actual art and practice of music itself. Like his brother Cory, therefore, Lyons’s dreams challenge Troy’s rigid sense of what constitutes a proper profession. However, while Cory ultimately succeeds in paving a way for himself—even if it’s through the military, and not through playing football, as he first intended—Lyons ultimately fails. Too narrowly focused on becoming a musician, Lyons has to resort to crime (cashing other peoples’ checks) in order to make ends meet. Following in his father’s footsteps, Lyons ends up in jail.

Lyons Maxson Quotes in Fences

The Fences quotes below are all either spoken by Lyons Maxson or refer to Lyons 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

You ain’t seen no devil. I done told you that man ain’t had nothing to do with the devil. Anything you can’t understand, you want to call it the devil.

Related Characters: Rose Maxson (speaker), Troy Maxson, Lyons Maxson, Jim Bono
Related Symbols: “Mr. Death”
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:
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You and me is two different people, Pop. . . . I know I got to eat. But I got to live too. I need something that gonna help me to get out of the bed in the morning. Make me feel like I belong in the world. I don’t bother nobody. I just stay with my music cause that’s the only way I can find to live in the world. Otherwise there ain’t no telling what I might do. Now I don’t come criticizing you and how you live. I just come by to ask you for ten dollars. I don’t wanna hear all that about how I live.

Related Characters: Lyons Maxson (speaker), Troy Maxson
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Act 1: Scene 4 Quotes

How he gonna leave with eleven kids? And where he gonna go? He ain’t knew how to do nothing but farm. No, he was trapped and I think he knew it. But I’ll say this for him . . . he felt a responsibility toward us. Maybe he ain’t treated us the way I felt he should have . . . but without that responsibility he could have walked off and left us . . . made his own way.

Related Characters: Troy Maxson (speaker), Lyons Maxson
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Lyons Maxson Character Timeline in Fences

The timeline below shows where the character Lyons Maxson appears in Fences. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1: Scene 1
Practicality, Idealism, and Race Theme Icon
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Lyons enters the scene, and Wilson writes a note in the script describing him as thirty-four... (full context)
Practicality, Idealism, and Race Theme Icon
Lyons rejects Rose’s invitation that he stay for dinner, saying that he found himself in the... (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
Lyons asks Troy again for ten dollars, and Troy hassles him, asking him why he isn’t... (full context)
Act 1: Scene 4
Blackness and Race Relations Theme Icon
Practicality, Idealism, and Race Theme Icon
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Lyons enters the scene, and Troy is surprised to see him, since he thought Lyons had... (full context)
Practicality, Idealism, and Race Theme Icon
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Lyons then reaches into his pocket, saying “Look here, Pop,” and Troy thinks he’s going to... (full context)
Mortality Theme Icon
...preparing for Judgment Day. He gives Rose a flower—a rose—and says he’s been chasing hellhounds. Lyons commends him, saying that someone has to chase them, and Gabe (Gabriel) says that, even... (full context)
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
As Lyons goes to leave, Gabe says Troy is mad at him, and Lyons asks Troy why.... (full context)
Blackness and Race Relations Theme Icon
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...wanting them to learn to walk so that they could help work on his farm. Lyons responds, saying that Troy’s father should have just left and moved on, but Troy says... (full context)
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...found some peace. He says he lost touch with every sibling of his except Gabriel. Lyons, hearing this story for the first time, is surprised by how young Troy was when... (full context)
Practicality, Idealism, and Race Theme Icon
Troy then explains that he walked two-hundred miles from his home to Mobile, but Lyons doesn’t believe him—Bono chimes in, and adds that walking was the only way to get... (full context)
Blackness and Race Relations Theme Icon
...food to survive, then money, and that, after one thing led to another, he met Lyons’ mom (different than Rose). When Lyons was born, Troy had to start stealing three times... (full context)
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
After Troy’s story, Lyons asks him to come see his performance later that evening, but Troy says he’s too... (full context)
Act 2: Scene 4
Manhood and Fathers Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
The fourth scene occurs two months later. Lyons enters the yard from the street, and knocks on the door of the Maxson household,... (full context)
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,... (full context)
Act 2: Scene 5
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. Rose says she’s very... (full context)
Practicality, Idealism, and Race Theme Icon
Family, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...tells Raynell to get ready for the funeral, and they both exit into the house. Lyons mentions that he’s heard Cory is thinking about getting married, and Cory affirms this, saying... (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 his inmates have... (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. Peter to... (full context)