Analysis of August Wilson's Short Story 'Fences'

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"I once wrote a short story called 'The Best Blues Singer in the World' and it went like this: 'The streets that Balboa walked were his own private ocean, and Balboa was drowning.' End of story. That says it all. Nothing else to say. I've been rewriting that same story over and over again. All my plays are rewriting that same story. I'm not sure what it means, other than life is hard" (Calvert, n.d.) In so many ways Fences is such an ordinary story that its power comes from the ways in which ordinary people hear and view it. There is no doubt but that the metaphor of the fence prevails, working its way across work, family, friendship and the emotional pain of living a life literally dependent on garbage for survival. This is what Wilson wrote about in his Fences of the 1950s. In retrospect, however, it doesn't take a lot to put some of these pieces together yet again to create a difference story of its own kinds of fences, wooden, social, economic. But then or now, this story is still about the ordinary failing of a person who cannot figure out how to get out of the box that surrounds him and who thus finds himself pulling others inside his own fenced in troubles and pains. Being a black man wasn't easy then and it isn't easy today. Wilson's obituary offers a good summary. Charles Ishwood wrote it for the New York Times in 2005, though it was excerpted by Calvert for a theatrical study guide: "In bringing to the popular American stage the gritty specifics of the
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