‘Fences’ (Troy): “I was young and anxious to be a man”

FENCES by August Wilson

From: Play

Type: Dramatic

Character: Troy Maxson was a former baseball player in the Negro Leagues who now works for the sanitation department.

Gender: Male

Age Range: 40's | 50's

Summary: Troy tells the story of how he ended up in jail and meeting Rose.

More: Read the Play | Watch the Film

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TROY: I walked on down to Mobile and hitched up with some of them fellows that was heading this way. Got up here and found out… not only couldn’t you get a job… you couldn’t find no place to live. I thought I was in freedom. Shhh. Colored folks living down there on the riverbanks in whatever kind of shelter they could find for themselves. Right down there under the Brady Street Bridge. Living in shacks made of sticks and tarpaper. Messed around there and went from bad to worse. Started stealing. First it was food. Then I figured, hell, if I steal money I can buy me some food. Buy me some shoes too!

One thing led to another. Met your mama. I was young and anxious to be a man. Met your mama and had you. What I do that for? Now I got to worry about feeding you and her. Got to steal three times as much. Went out one day looking for somebody to rob… that’s what I was, a robber. I’ll tell you the truth. I’m ashamed of it today. But it’s the truth. Went to rob this fellow… pulled out my knife… and he pulled out a gun. Shot me in the chest. It felt just like somebody had taken a hot branding iron and laid it on me. When he shot me I jumped at him with my knife. They told me I killed him and they put me in the penitentiary and locked me up for fifteen years. That’s where I met Bono. That’s where I learned how to play baseball. Got out that place and your mama had taken you and went on to make life without me.

Fifteen years was a long time for her to wait. But that fifteen years cured me of that robbing stuff. Rose’ll tell you. She asked me when I met her if I had gotten all that foolishness out of my system. And I told her, “Baby, it’s you and baseball all what count with me.” You hear me, Bono? I meant it too. She say, “Which one comes first?” I told her, “Baby, ain’t no doubt it’s baseball… but you stick and get old with me and we’ll both outlive this baseball.” Am I right, Rose? And it’s true.

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