August Wilson’s Fences and 20th Century American Drama


Students will write a critical response to themes conveyed by dialogue and tragic character flaws in August Wilson’s Fences.

Unit Essential Questions:

What is the impact of larger social forces on freedom and private lives according to August Wilson’s play, Fences?


Tragedy, tragic flaw, tragic hero, foil, motifs, theme(s), Archetypes, symbols

OBJECTIVE 1:  Historical Context

I.  Pre-Reading:  Background Video on August Wilson

II. Reading: Fences Study Guide by South Coast Repertory Theater

III. Post-ReadingAuthor Background Circle Map and Paragraph Frame on August Wilson that examines influences on his writing.

OBJECTIVE 3: Analyze the traits of the American Tragic Hero

I.  Pre-Reading: August Wilson Quote Analysis:

“When the sins of our fathers visit us, we do not have to play host.  We can banish them with forgiveness as God, in his largeness and Laws.” –August Wilson

II.  ReadingFences by August Wilson Full Text & Fences Lesson Notes

III. Post Reading: Write an Summary Templatethat directly answers our ESSENTIAL QUESTION and Critical Response that examines the Traits of the American Tragic Hero as illustrated by the play’s protagonist.