Throwback Thursday: Fences Performance Critique

Throwback Thursday, where, essentially I post old writing samples, essays and short stories that I dig up from my pile of hoarded papers and school assignments or from the depths of my computer. So everyone can see how my writing has changed/improved over the years.


Fences by August Wilson premiered in 1985. The play was adapted into a movie in 2016, with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reprising their roles, of Troy and Rose respectively, from the 2010 revival of the play on Broadway. The movie adaptation highlights the way Troy is a tragic figure, rather than a merely a sympathetic one. Based on the written play, Troy is a character who has faced a difficult life and perpetuates this in his family life, cheating on his wife and holding his son back from his dreams. Washington’s portrayal highlights the sympathy you could have for Troy more consistently than the play allows, making it a story not only of the way oppression eventually beats a man down, but the way you build a life despite of it. The play leaves it to the audience to decide if Troy can be forgiven or not, determine for themselves if he has truly gone to heaven. However, the movie uses lightening as well as physical cues throughout, to lead us to the interpretation that Troy has gone to heaven, and is ultimately a tragic character, rather than merely a sympathetic but unforgivable one. The film version ultimately gives the ambiguous ending of the play, whether or not Troy could ultimately be forgiven by his family, a definitive interpretation that he would be forgiven, that his faults did not make him irredeemable.

Systematic oppression has put Troy in his position, and though he tries his best, he falls short of living the life he intends. The way in which Troy tries but fails to measure up is clearer in the film, going beyond the stage-directions, which do not indicate Troy is showing emotion his words aren’t conveying. The film shows more humor and kindness in Troy then his stern words alone suggest in the play. Just through reading the play, it is possible to interpret Troy has someone who has lived up to society’s expectation of him, being cruel to his son, and cheating on his wife. The ways in which you can sympathize with him only emerging in specific instances. This is brought out more fully with Washington’s portrayal of the character, shifting the interpretation of Troy’s character and ultimate fate from ambiguous to solidly tragic and forgiven.

Specifically, Troy’s vulnerabilities are clearer in Washington’s portrayal, with soft, sad smiles where the play had no written direction other than stern words – highlighting the way he wasn’t only criticizing Cory, but protecting the only way he knew how. The physicality of Washington’s portrayal of Troy (referring to his facial expressions and tone of voice) leads viewers to a more sympathetic and understanding view of Troy than readers of the script may walk away with. The tone of voice Washington uses in key scenes differs from the tone you would expect from the play-script itself. In his speech to Cory where Troy is lecturing Cory “Who says I have to like you,” (Wilson 37) he is smiling and affectionate, almost joking with his son, there is humor as well as a lecture, rather than just the stern lecture of sacrifice it is in its written form. This interpretation of the play in the movie is further expressed by Cory’s reaction to singing the song with Raynell in the end of the film. While the play never lets us know directly whether Cory himself has forgiven his father for his faults, thus furthering the allowance of the readers to make their own conclusions of his character, the film has Cory crying as he sings, as he takes his mother’s rant about the good and bad parts of his father to heart; Cory accepts Troy as a flawed man, but a man who tried his best nonetheless, and leads the audience to this same interpretation.

Besides physicality, the other major way the film leads to the interpretation of Troy as a tragic character is lightning, most significantly, the lightning in the last scene. Troy’s brother Gabriel believes himself to be the archangel Gabriel, who is the messenger of God, and calls out for St. Peter to open the gates of heaven to let Troy in. The stage directions of the play indicate that the stage lights blackout after Gabriel blows his trumpet and the gates of heaven open to him, but it is ambiguous whether this means Troy has gone to heaven, or it is only a manifestation of Gabriel’s delusion, and could be played either way. The movie has bright gold across the sky, as the clouds part and open up, as the family stares up for several long seconds. The movie ends on golden light streaming through the tree into the backyard, rather than going straight to black after the sound of the trumpet. The end of the movie clearly lets you see that Troy has been forgiven in the eyes of God, rather than leaving it a possible manifestation of Gabriel’s mind.

Personally, my preferred interpretation of the play is to see Troy as a tragic figure, to see him as flawed but sympathetic, rather than irredeemable for his poor choices. Because he is flawed in a lot of ways, but he is human, and no human being has ever not made a mistake, including huge life-changing ones like his affair which results in Raynell. It is far easier to vilify someone, than to forgive them; it is easier to write someone off rather than look deeper into what lead to mistakes being made. Some of Troy’s choices were entirely on him, but others seem almost inevitable. He is harsh on Cory not because he doesn’t love him, but because systematic oppression has beaten his dreams out of him, and he can’t fix that for Cory, so he wants him not to be hurt by the battles Troy was never able to win. You can understand Troy’s behaviors, and forgive them, without excusing them. Troy’s motto seems to be “you gotta take the crookeds with the straights” (Wilson 94) and that is the interpretation of Troy’s character that the film leaves us with, which seems the honest interpretation. You forgive, because it is harder than anger, you take the good and the bad parts of life, and you make the best of the situations you have no power over, because you have power over yourself.


Works Cited

Washington, Denzel, director. Fences. Paramount Pictures, 2016.

Wilson, August. Fences. New Mexico Repertory Theatre, 1989.

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Netgalley Review: The Best Damn Answers to Life’s Hardest Questions

The Best Damn Answers to Life’s Hardest Questions

A Flowchart Book

by Tess Koman

Throwback Thursday: Roles of Women in Society in The House on Mango Street

Throwback Thursday, where, essentially I post old writing samples, essays and short stories that I dig up from my pile of hoarded papers and school assignments or from the depths of my computer. So everyone can see how my writing has changed/improved over the years.


Roles of Women in Society in The House on Mango Street

In The House on Mango Street, women are not treated as equals to men. In the vignette “Marin”, Marin is only ever described as Louie’s cousin, not her own person. She is expected to work to send money home, She is expected to take care of the kids, not go out farther than the front yard, and believes that “what matters is for the boys to see us, and for us to see them”. The vignette speaks of how Marin is waiting for a man to change her life, how she wants to get married. Esperanza praises Marin for her bravery when faced with boys that find her beautiful, indicating that she thinks they are meant to be afraid. In “Alicia who sees Mice”, Alicia is the oldest daughter when her mother dies and thus “inherits her rolling pin and her sleepiness”. Alicia is expected to wake up early to make the lunches even though her father would be perfectly capable. This conveys that cooking is a women’s job. The father doesn’t believe her about the mice. And Alicia studies because she wants a better life, though Esperanza says it as if girls don’t usually go to college. She also says “Alicia who is scared of nothing. But four-legged fur. And fathers”, again indicating that the women fear the men.

Book Blogger Hop – July 27th

The Book Blogger Hop was originally created by Jennifer from Crazy-For-Books in March 2010 and ended on December 31, 2012. With Jennifer’s permission, Coffee Addicted Writer relaunched the meme on February 15, 2013.

There will be a weekly prompt featuring a book related question. The hop’s purpose is to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, befriend other bloggers, and receive new followers to your own blog.


27th – August 2nd – Do you agree or disagree with this statement: A blogger’s first name should be in a prominent place on his/her blog. (submitted by Elizabeth @ Silver’s Reviews)


I think having a first name or a nickname on your blog can be helpful – especially when a lot of book blog names are a mouthful, it can be an easier way to identify a blogger. But I think it is by no means necessary, some people are wary of putting names online, or don’t want real life friends seeing their blog, or are shy and would rather not. A lot of people add their names once their more confident, but its not necessary for a book blog.

Romance Fails in Fiction Tag

Some Other Recent Romance Posts:

Discussion: Who Would You Pick In This YA Love Triangle?

THE VALENTINE’S DAY WRITE TAG!

Power Couples Book Tag

The Book Courtship Tag

Discussion: What Makes A Good Book Boyfriend?


Rules:

  • Please PINGBACK to Kate @ Melting Pots and Other Calamities.
  • You can choose ten romance fails from ANY media you like: books, movies, anime, manga, T.V shows, or Webtoons. You can even mix them up if you want.
  • You can choose funny fails or serious ones; for the serious ones, phrase it humorously. Remember, this is a fun tag! It’s not meant to be serious.
  • Mention who’s who in the fails. (I.E, who fails and who is the recipient of the failure). If there isn’t  recipient, per se, just state the couple (or non-couple).
  • Optional: Rank the failures from least extreme to most extreme.
  • 5 failures at LEAST.
  • Tag as many people as you want, but at least one person.

These fails are less about the biggest fails in fiction and more about the first ones I thought of – but they are fails.


5 Romance Fails in Books

Blue/Adam
(The Raven Boys)

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I LOVE The Raven Cycle books, a lot. Adam and Blue are a relationship set up to fail from the beginning, but it doesn’t make it less of a fail.

Cammie/Josh
(I’d Tell You I Loved You But Then I’d Have To Kill You)

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Book Review: I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You

Cammie spends the whole book sneaking around and breaking rules and lying to data Josh, only for him to be completely irrelevant by the next book because he can’t handle the weirdness and has his memory wiped. Definitely a romance fail.

America/Aspen
(The Selection)

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There is no plot aside from the love triangle, but its an obnoxious one. America obviously loves Maxon, but can’t get over Aspen when he’s always there, despite having been the one to break up with her. Three books of being annoying for me reason. Ugh.

Vivi/Jonah
(When We Collided)

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Review: When We Collided

One of the few YA books I’ve ever read where a couple didn’t need to be together forever in the end. Its okay for a first love not to be a forever love. I love their relationship, and in the end they fail as a couple but its supposed to be that way. I love this book.

Romeo/Juliet
(Romeo & Juliet)

romeo_and_juliet

I don’t think a romance fails list can exist without them. Its literally the biggest romance fail ever – they died, stupidly.


5 Romance Fails in TV

Rachel/Joey
(Friends)

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I HATED this ENTIRE plot line.

Barry/Linda
(The Flash)

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This was always set up to crash and burn.

Nate/Serena
(Gossip Girl)

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Nate is probably the most good-hearted character. I love him. He and Serena are a mess as a couple, but great as friends.

Betty/Jughead
(Riverdale)

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They’re cute enough in the show, but Jughead IS SUPPOSED TO BE ASEXUAL AND I HATE THE ERASURE.

Katherine/Damon
(The Vampire Diaries)

Series Code: VD112c

They are such a mess. Poor Damon.

Book Recs: YA Contemporary (Romance Focused)

I’ve been wanting to make a recommendation post for a while now, and after seeing Christine’s video (embedded below), I though Contemporary would be a good place to start.



Megan Meade's Guide to the McGowan Boys

Tash Hearts Tolstoy

Netgalley Review: Tash Hearts Tolstoy

Secrets of My Hollywood Life (Secrets of My Hollywood Life, #1)

The Love Interest

Netgalley Review: The Love Interest

The Love That Split the World

The Love That Split The World Book Review

Get It Together, Delilah!

NetGalley Review: Get It Together, Delilah!

Hello, I Love You

The Juliet Spell

Emmy & Oliver

Emmy & Oliver Book Review

The Catastrophic History of You and Me

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour

Girl Against the Universe

Book Review: Girl Against The Universe


If you enjoy this, let me know!

 

Netgalley Review: Little Moments of Love

Little Moments of Love

by Catana Chetwynd

Little Moments of Love is a sweet collection of comics about the simple, precious, silly, everyday moments that make up a relationship.

What began as stray doodles on scraps of paper became an internet sensation when Catana Chetwynd’s boyfriend shared her drawings online. Now, Catana Comics touches millions of readers with its sweet, relatable humor. Little Moments of Love collects just that – the little moments that are the best parts of being with the person you love.


I received an e-arc from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


5 Stars

I seen some of these comics before online – mostly on Buzzfeed. This book was a collection, almost all of which I’ve never seen before. The art style is super cute, and I really enjoy it, and the subject is really cute too – little relationship moments. Its a cute, fast read, and great if you like this sort of thing.