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Film 'Fences' Shows Rationalization for Sin

In the movie Fences (originally a play written by August Wilson), Denzel Washington plays Troy Maxson, a fifty-three year-old man who works for the sanitation department. Troy has just told his wife Rose that he's been having an affair with a younger woman. The following (slightly condensed) conversation ensues:

Rose: [Troy], I've got eighteen years of my life invested in you. You ought to have stayed upstairs in my bed where you belong.

Troy: Rose, now listen to me. We can get a handle on this thing. We can talk this out, come to an understanding.

Rose: All of a sudden it's "we." Where was "we" at when you was down there rolling around with some godforsaken woman? "We" should have come to an understanding before you started making a fool of yourself.

Troy: It's just … She gives me a different idea, a different understanding about myself. I can step out of this house and get away from the pressures and problems … be a different man. I ain't got to wonder how I'm gonna pay the bills or get the roof fixed. I can just be a part of myself that I ain't never been. I can sit up in her house and laugh. Do you understand what I'm saying. I can laugh out loud, and it feels good. It reaches all the way down to the bottom of my shoes. Rose, I can't give that up.

Rose: Maybe you ought to go on and stay down there with her, if she a better woman than me.

Troy: It ain't about nobody being a better woman or nothing … I done locked myself into a pattern trying to take care of you all that I forgot about myself … Rose, I done tried all my life to live decent, to live a clean, hard, useful life. I tried to be a good husband to you. In every way I knew how. Maybe I come into the world backwards, I don't know.

Possible Preaching Angles: (1) Sin; Selfishness; Rationalization; Self-Justification; Denial—Troy's arguments represent a classic model for how any of us can deny or rationalize our sin. (2) Law—notice how Troy's attempt to be a good person through duty and effort shows how the Law does not change our heart—only the Holy Spirit can.

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