Maxson’s yard is a critical part of the story narrated through August Wilson’s “Fences”. It can be argued that there are several things (when one looks at the play as a whole) that the garden emphasizes. This is especially in relation to symbolism. It is critical to note that the yard is open and bare when the play begins. This is symbolic of both the lives of the characters and the development of the story. Symbolically, for one to grow a garden in a yard, time, resources, care, and patience have to be considered. The same can be applied to relationships, and in the case of Troy, lack of the same. The character has a hard time making friends or engaging in other types of relationships. In fact, he appears to misuse and mistreats his oldest friend, Bono. The character’s bad behavior and attitude towards himself and others lead to failed relationships. In the same manner, the yard was initially bare and nothing could grow there.
On the same note, the specific development of the garden (that becomes visible in Act II scene 5) is symbolic of the character’s development This is both in regards to Troy, the lead character, and Bono, his long-term friend. The garden starts to grow 8 years since the characters are introduced to the audience. Ideally, although this time is not real, it goes to show the amount of time that was needed to ensure that growth. Troy had the same challenge as he did not want to grow or change. It is important to note that this is only applicable to some of the characteristics, not all. For instance, he was adamant about change at his workplace and even challenged his bosses for a promotion, which he got through a successful court case. On the other hand, he refuses to let his son Cory play professionally. He does not believe that a black man can earn a living playing football. This goes to show how complicated his character was, just like the garden.
Critically, despite the challenges that Troy faced, his character does develop to some extent, just like the garden. Although his relationship with his son remains strained till his death, Troy is able to tell his wife the truth about his affair. This can be seen as a type of development due to the patriarchal nature of Troy’s character. He believes that the man has to provide and protect his family but should not be questioned about all his other actions. Therefore, the fact that he admitted to his wife his mistake shows growth despite challenges. It is important to know that Troy’s character continues to grow even after the birth of his daughter. Interestingly, due to the fact that his mistress dies, he gives his wife the baby. This aspect emphasizes how much Troy has changed over the years. By giving his daughter to his scorned wife, he not only admits his mistakes as a man but also acknowledges the strength of his wife.
One can argue that the symbolism of the growth of the garden can also be linked to the lives of the characters after Troy’s death. Whereas his wife and daughter are significantly sad after his passing, his son is not affected. This is due to the fact that Troy had kicked out Cory years before he died. Similar to a garden, there are trees that will have flowers and fruit while there are those that will not despite the fact that both types have been cared for by the same person using the same resources. Troy’s wife, daughter, and even brother are the trees with flowers and fruit while Cory is the one without. Overall, the garden plays an important role in the play. This is due to the fact that a significant amount of exchanges between the characters happen in the yard next to the garden. Additionally, it provides a symbolic analysis of the character’s development.