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Literature Study GuidesFencesAct 2 Scene 4 Summary

Fences | Study Guide

August Wilson

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Fences | Act 2, Scene 4 | Summary



Two months later Lyons stops by hurridly to pay back his father the 20 dollars he owes him. While there, Lyons talks to Cory briefly and advises him to talk to Troy about getting him a job. As Troy enters, Rose heads off to church with a cake for the church bake sale. As Troy starts drinking, Bono stops by. They have not seen each other in some time. Bono says he doesn't see Troy anymore since Troy's promotion. He also talks about retiring. Troy talks of retirement, too, and says driving is lonely. Bono turns down Troy's invitation to sit and have a drink—he now sees other friends on Friday nights.

Cory enters the yard while Troy sits in the middle of the steps, drinking and singing. Cory tries to brush by Troy, who blocks his way and picks a fight about Cory's not saying "Excuse me." Cory says he does not count anymore, and Troy taunts his son, asking whether he is going to take over his house.

An argument ensues. Troy tells Cory he gave his life for his son. When Cory reminds his father how he betrayed Rose, Troy is enraged. He throws Cory out of the house. Cory picks up a bat and refuses to leave. When Troy continues toward him, Cory loses his nerve and leaves for good.


This Friday night is different from others. Troy is alone with his bottle. Bono comes by but only to say a quick hello. Bono used to look up to Troy. But, since Troy's betrayal of Rose, Bono does not see his old friend in the same way. The bond between them has been severed.

Rose no longer has time for Troy. Whereas before Rose came when he called and joined him in a dinner she made for him and anyone else who was around, Rose now does her own thing. She leaves food for him in the oven and goes off on her own. She doesn't even think Troy deserves to know what time she will be home.

Lyons and Cory make brief appearances. When Cory tells Lyons he is looking for a job, readers realize that things might have been better for Cory if Troy had signed the recruitment papers. Cory leaves the yard the minute Troy enters it. He has nothing to say to Troy, whom he blames for everything.

When Cory enters again, the fight between father and son is inevitable. Although Troy is the instigator of the altercation, Cory is ready to let go of his frustration. Troy reiterates the old theme of how he has given Cory "everything": that is, a place to sleep and food to eat—as if that is all a child needs. Cory is disgusted with his father and has a list of grievances, including the way Troy treated Rose and how he held him back. Just like his father before him, Troy has a physical confrontation with his son, which leads to the son leaving. Troy, who was singing his father's song before Cory came up, copies the very actions he so despised in his father. For Cory, leaving his father's house is his entrance to manhood—just as it was for Troy when he left his father's house.

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