Fences vs Death of Salesman: Compare & Contrast

Fences vs Death of Salesman: Compare & Contrast
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 The common theme in Fences and Salesman is the achievement of the American dream. The two literary pieces tell the story of two men as they struggle to achieve the American dream. The two men have obscure views on how to achieve this dream and set out on a journey to live the American dream. However, the mistakes they make during their quest to live the dream cause them to lose sight, and sabotage their lives and families. The characters are engaged in affairs, which account for some of the mistakes they made. Troy Maxson lived during a period that was characterized by racial segregation.

The constant fighting between himself, wife and son destroyed his life. Willy Loman believed that in order to succeed he must be liked by others. He focused on success and encouraged his children to strive for success. His aggression for success broke his family. As a result, he was depressed to the extent that he took his life. Salesman and Fences highlight some of the issues that the male gender goes through in life. A comparison can be made between the male issues in Fence and Salesman.

Analysis of Male Issues in Salesman and Fences

One of the themes portrayed in the two literary pieces is the pursuit of the American dream. Throughout the plays, the main characters are in a quest to achieve the perceived American dream. Their families are also pushed in order to achieve or share in the dream. According to the two plays, people who have achieved respect, wealth and happiness are considered successful because they have everything that is possibly achievable.

The two characters, Willy Loman and Troy Maxson strive in order to become successful through comparable ideals and motives. However, it is vital to note the differences in their environments. Willy Loman’s family is white, but he is struggling to survive, while Troy Maxson’s family is African American. He has to live through the racial segregation and overcome the challenges in order to achieve his ideas of success. He faced numerous challenges as he tried to support his family. The two characters are blinded by the advertisements that reinforced the idea that the American dream was achievable by anybody. The reality was that in order for an individual to achieve the American dream, he or she must strain and face numerous obstacles and challenges. Unfortunately, the two characters were persuaded by the commercialized ideas of the American dream. As a result, their lives are destroyed.

Faithfulness to Women

The two characters have a desire to cohabit with other women. During Willy’s trip to Boston, he entered into an affair with another woman, even though he had a wife at home. Willy’s son decided to visit his father in Boston, only to find him in his adulterous affair. He confronts him because he bought the woman a pair of stockings. The issue was that Biff wanted his father to buy gifts for his mother only. Biff considers his father’s behavior as betrayal because he treated a strange woman better than he treated his family. This instance shows the importance of men’s faithfulness to women. Willy’s unfaithfulness led to the destruction of his family. Biff lost interest in education and he began to fail in mathematics.

Additionally, he was forced to lie in order to cover up for his father’s adulterous behavior. The behavior of unfaithfulness is seen with Troy. He confuses the audience because he always praised his wife and stated his undying love for her.

Throughout the play, Troy states that his wife is the best woman he had even seen. However, when Troy is asked about his interest in Alberta, he turns the question around. Instead of denying his interests, Troy turns the question around, which is an indication that he is interested in Alberta. This is also an indication that he is unfaithful to his wife. Troy avoids the issue of having an affair with Alberta until he is forced to tell his wife that Alberta is pregnant, and she is carrying his baby.

Denial of Reality

The two male characters are faced with reality. However, the nature of the reality forces them to live in denial. In the case of Willy Loman, his denial of reality led to his downfall. In one of the scenes, he forced his son to lie in order to cover the truth that he had an affair with a woman in Boston. In his attempt to run away from realty, he killed himself. Willy’s denial of reality made him feel worthless. As a result, he believed that the only way he could redeem himself was through death. He figured out that after dying, his family would benefit because they would be compensated through his insurance policy. Instead of facing reality and problems, the two characters choose to run away.

According to Willy’s wife, his death enabled her to pay off the mortgage and enjoy a sense of freedom. Willy could have resolved problems in his life without resorting to killing himself. In Fences, Troy also attempted to deny reality when he avoided questions about his relationship with Alberta. Additionally, he decided to enter into a relationship with Alberta because he felt that he was a failure. He was trying to run away from his family and all the problems he had to solve.

Troy’s intention was to run away from his family because he always felt as a failure whenever he was around his children and wife. He felt that he was a failure because he did not have an opportunity to play professional baseball. He did not have anything to show his worth to his children in the future. Though he wanted to run away from his family, he felt a responsibility towards them.

Feeling Unappreciated

The two characters face situations that make them feel unappreciated. These instances make them lose their confidence and attachment towards their friends and family members. During the initial scenes of the play Fences, Troy decided to take a stand and question the racism that was prevalent in the workplace. Because of his actions, most of his friends and coworkers believed that he would be sacked. By the end of this scene, the audience realizes that Troy took a bold step towards the liberation of the country from racism.

Though the audience appreciates and recognizes his boldness and courage, Troy feels that other characters do not appreciate him. Troy also did not feel appreciated because he missed the chance to join the professional baseball league. Troy played in the baseball league until he was over 40 years old. He did not feel appreciated because he contributed much to the sport, but he was always overlooked during selection for the professional league. One of the main challenges in the life of Willy was the fact that his family did not appreciate him. In most of the cases, he retreated into the past when he felt loved and appreciated by his sons and wife.


The two plays show the lives of two men as they struggle to live the American dream and support their families. They are faced with different circumstances, and they must overcome challenges in order to live the dream. Comparison can be made between the issues that face Troy Maxson in Fences and Willy Loman in Salesman. The two characters are faced with the issue of faithfulness to women. The two are not faithful to their wives and their behaviors go against the principles of marriage and love. The two have affairs with other women. In addition, the two characters face issues associated with the lack of appreciation. They do not feel appreciated by their family members and friends for their efforts. The two characters also live in denial of reality. Willy lived in denial of the reality in his life until he decided to kill himself. Troy denied the fact that he had an affair with another woman. One of the most important issue or theme in the two plays is the fact that Willy and Troy strive to live the American dream. All their efforts are focused on the acquisition of wealth and living a happy life with their family.