Fences By August Wilson

Imagine for a moment it is your big sister’s 17th birthday. She is out with
her friends celebrating, and your parents are at the mall with your little
brother doing some last minute birthday shopping, leaving you home alone. You
then hear a knock on the front door. When you get there, nobody is there, just
an anonymous note taped to the door that says Happy Birthday, along with a
hundred dollar bill. You’ve been dying to get that new video game, and your
sister will never know. You are faced with a tough decision, but not a very
uncommon one. In both Fences, by August Wilson, and A Raisin in the Sun, by

Lorraine Hansbury, tough decisions have to be made about getting money from
someone else’s misfortune. But money’s that important right? The role of
money in people’s day-to-day lives is quite amazing when it’s put into
perspective. The primary reason most Americans get up in the morning is so they
can go out and make money. Money buys things; money influences people; money
keeps us alive; money makes us happy. Or does it? In Fences, by August Wilson,
the Maxtons get their money when Gabe’s head is shot in the war. In A Raisin
in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansbury, the Younger family gets their money when

Walter’s father dies. But do these things make them happy? Of course not. They
are coming upon money from someone else’s misfortune, someone they love. The
money may have made life easier for a brief moment in time, but the novelty soon
wears off and reality soon returns. The interesting thing about these two novels
is that the money received by both the Maxtons and the Youngers did exactly the
opposite of what everyone expected it to do. It eventually made problems for
both of the families. In Fences, the Maxtons used Gabe’s money to buy a house
and even though it seemed like a good idea, when Gabe moved out, it caused a
great deal of guilt in the family, but especially in Troy. He just couldn’t
get over how he ‘used’ someone he loved so much, and they didn’t even know
it. In A Raisin in the Sun, the Youngers also buy a house with the money the
life insurance gave them. But their problem are caused not by guilt, but by two
entirely different emotions. One is the feeling of being the object of racism in
their new community when the "Welcoming Committee" tries to get them not to
move in. The other one is the combination of defeat, loss, anger, and self-pity
felt by the whole family when Walter loses the rest of the money and the Younger
family is left with nothing but a house in a neighborhood where they aren’t
wanted. And money is a good thing? Answering that question is a simple one. Yes,
money is a good thing when it is dealt with in the right way. Both the Maxtons
and the Youngers had trouble in how they handled their money and that led to
many of the problems they both faced. Money is what makes the "world go
round" in our modern society, but it’s not a way to measure success, love,
or happiness. As Bob Dylan put it, "What’s money? A man is a success if he
gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in-between does what he
wants to do." All money really is, is a way to buy material things. Sure,
it’s important, but not close to how important the people we love are. They
are where real happiness comes from, not from little green pieces of paper.

Happiness is not having what you want, it’s wanting what you have.