He is carrying on the tradition of his father's life in his own, even though he would never admit it. By the end of the play, Troy's life resembles his father's closely. "Sometimes I use to wonder why he was living.... He ain't knew how to do nothing but farm. No, he was trapped and I think he knew it" (Wilson 51). Troy is just as trapped as his father was, his responsibilities have trapped him, just as they drove away his wife and son. Troy still has a dead-end job, and a family who no longer loves or respects him. He has become his father, and taken on the unwanted responsibility of keeping the family steeped in lower-class values and livelihoods. He remembers the life of his father when he was a child, and while he does not say it, he must be thinking inside that his life is really no different, he is still struggling for his own brand of freedom, too. "I thought I was in freedom. Shhh. Colored folks living down there on the river banks in whatever kind of shelter they could find for themselves.... Living in shacks made of sticks and paper" (Wilson 54).
Rose, and the fence she compels Troy to build, both represent the boundaries of Troy's responsibility to the family. Rose hopes to keep Troy "in line" with the fence, and she is also a visual reminder every day of his infidelity, and how he has let the family down. He loves Rose, but he is not above finding pleasure somewhere else, while Rose is true, and pays the price. "I been standing with you! I been right here with you, Troy. I got a life too. I gave eighteen years of my life to stand in the same spot with you. Don't you think I ever wanted other things? Don't you think I had dreams and hopes?" (Wilson 70-71). Her responsibility is even stronger than Troy's, for she reluctantly agrees to raise the illegitimate daughter, thereby shouldering the responsibility of Troy's philandering. The entire play really revolves around this juggling of the "responsibility of family," and how it finally affects the family. "Some people build fences to keep people out... And other people build fences to keep people in. Rose wants to hold on to you all. She loves you" (Wilson 61). Unfortunately, Rose cannot fence in her family, any more than Troy can accept the ultimate responsibility for destroying what was once a happy family. As he pushes his family away, they do not recognize the love he has for them, and he may not even recognize it himself.
In conclusion, Wilson's play explores "responsibility of family" through many different angles. Troy's responsibility is his pride, and his ultimate downfall. Throughout the play, the importance of Troy's family plays an all-important place in his life. His responsibility to his family is paramount to him, even though he does not always show it, and they do not always know…