Literature Study GuidesFencesAct 2 Scene 5 Summary

Fences | Study Guide

August Wilson

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Fences | Act 2, Scene 5 | Summary



Seven years have passed, and it is the day of Troy's funeral. Raynell is in the front yard looking after her little garden. Cory returns home from the U.S. Marines, but Raynell does not recognize him. When Rose sees him they have a tearful reunion. Bono and Lyons are already at the house.

Lyons tells Cory he and his wife divorced. Cory reveals he is about to get married and is considering making a career of the marines. Lyons has been serving a jail term for theft. He shares memories of Troy and one of his favorite sayings. Lyons is still playing music. Together Raynell and Cory sing a song they both learned from Troy.

Cory tells Rose he does not intend to go to Troy's funeral. He says he for once has to say no to Troy and be rid of him for good. Rose does not accept Cory's decision. She says disrespecting Troy is no way to prove you're a man. Rose says he is just like Troy; Cory insists that he just wants to be himself. Rose acknowledges Troy's flaws but says on the whole he meant well; she also says she bears some responsibility for problems in her marriage. And she's thankful for Raynell, who has given Rose a chance to relive a part of her life.

Gabriel arrives, saying it is time to tell St. Peter to open the gates for Troy. In an attempt to help Troy get to heaven, Gabriel blows his trumpet but fails. After the third time Gabriel starts to dance and howls, "in an attempt at song." When he finishes his dance the gates of heaven open.


Only after Troy's death can Cory return. The house was not big enough for the two of them, and Cory stayed away during Troy's lifetime. Although Cory has returned home, his disgust with his father has not abated. He has carried Troy's shadow with him; by skipping the funeral he hopes to reject his father once and for all. As Rose aptly points out, however, Cory cannot escape his identity. She says the shadow that oppresses Cory is really just Cory becoming who he is; the son becomes the father.

Despite recognizing Rose's logic, only after singing with Raynell does Cory decide to go to Troy's funeral. Raynell's presence caused the final break between Cory and Troy as well as Troy and Rose. As she has grown up, however, Raynell has brought out the best in the characters. Just as she tends her little garden, Raynell helps people grow and heal. Rose is happy to have a chance to mother her and is determined to give the child her best. Troy has given a piece of himself to Raynell as well, symbolized by the song she and Cory sing. That song binds the two of them together and to Troy. He is a part of both of his children. The dark side of Troy has not been passed down to Raynell, who will have Rose as her primary caretaker as she ages. Cory sees the goodness in Raynell and realizes he can and will go to his father's funeral.

Troy appears to have regretted losing Cory. Though Raynell has been sleeping there, Troy still refers to it as Cory's room. His football remains in the closet. Rose says they talk about Cory all the time. Bono mentions how Troy used to say good things about Cory. With the passage of time, Troy seemed to have recognized some of his faults, including how he handled his relationship with Cory. As Rose notes, Troy meant well.

Gabriel has been preparing to send Troy to heaven since the play began. When he is unable to blow his trumpet to signal the opening of the gates of heaven, he is grieved but does not stop. For years Gabriel has promised Troy he will get him into heaven and will not let the failed trumpet stop him. The dance that Gabriel performs serves as Troy's redemption, and ultimately the gates of heaven open for him. Just as in life, Gabriel was the conduit to a home for Troy; so is he in death. Troy's sins have been overlooked, and this flawed man can enter heaven.

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