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Literature Study GuidesFencesAct 2 Scene 3 Summary

Fences | Study Guide

August Wilson

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Fences | Act 2, Scene 3 | Summary



Three days later Troy brings Raynell to the house. After talking to the baby, Troy addresses Rose and says he cannot deny Raynell is his flesh and blood, just like Cory and Lyons. He asks her to help him take care of her. Rose agrees to and says the child will have a mother, "But you a womanless man."


Troy shows a tenderness absent till now. He is vulnerable and has nowhere to go. It's ironic that Alberta appealed to Troy because she enabled him to escape responsibility. Now with Alberta gone, Troy has the greatest responsibility of all—raising a child. He realizes that he can't handle this responsibility and reaches out to Rose, for whom the child is a symbol of Troy's betrayal.

Initially, Rose walks away from Troy. His audience has disappeared, and he is left alone on the porch with just the baby. When Troy talks to the baby, he intends for Rose to hear his words. Even though he needs Rose's help, he has no regrets about what has occurred because, as he says, "it felt right in my heart." Where is his sense? How does this make his request for help from Rose more likely to be fulfilled? For a man referring to his heart, he shows little understanding or appreciation for other people's feelings.

Rose takes pity on Raynell, since "a motherless child has got a hard time." This is true not only of Raynell, but also of Troy himself. Troy said earlier he was born with two strikes against him—apparently referring to his absent mother and cruel father. Rose may recognize that with a more loving parent, Troy might have been a more loving person. Rose will give Raynell the type of life she would want for her own child.

The motif of fathers and sons returns when Rose says, "you can't visit the sins of the father upon the child." This saying has religious overtones and is a precursor of Rose's turning away from Troy and toward the church. The cycle of misery bestowed by fathers on their children will stop with Raynell. The cycle that began with Troy's father and focused exclusively on responsibility will not go on.

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