“You are just like your father.” Rose the mother in the movie Fences says this to her son Cory when he comes home from the Marine Corps to attend his father’s funeral. Although Cory admits his abusive, alcoholic, unfaithful father’s shadow has always haunted him it is hard for him to accept he may have inherited any of his qualities. And yes his father Troy does have some good qualities. At the start of the movie you rather like Troy despite his non-stop verbiage that hardly lets anyone get a word in edgewise. Troy obviously loves his wife, works hard, has friends and stands up for himself.
Rose wants her son Cory to understand that no matter how much we might wish to be different than our parents, and no matter how much our parents might wish us to be different than them, we still inherit genes from our parents and learn certain attitudes towards life from them, and are influenced heavily by the environment in which they raise us. We cannot help but be shaped by them. It is just part of our human legacy. Of course we can try to change certain things about that legacy and not pass on the determential parts to the next generation. Troy has three children and in the last scenes of the movie we see them interacting with each other in ways that are very different than the way their father interacted with them. It is clear they have also been influenced by Rose and their own life experiences.
We saw the movie Fences last night and it is chock full of important themes and ideas. But the thing I am still thinking about this morning is that idea of parental legacy. How has it effected my life and what have I done, and will I do, with that legacy?