In the tradition of tragic heroes such as Oedipus Rex, Willie Loman, and Marcus Brutus, Troy Maxson is a noble man with a tragic flaw that leads him down a path ending in ruin. Troy's hamartia is his stubborn, self-centeredness. He views the people in his life as revolving around him. He can't put himself in their shoes. When he cheats on Rosie, he did it out of selfishness. When he ruined Cory's football scholarship, he believed it was because whites wouldn't let Cory play, but the world had changed and Troy stubbornly refused to believe it. It has to be noted that Troy Maxson isn't a bad man. His actions and speech may come off as cruel and callous but he also has admirable and likeable qualities. He is firmly responsible in his duty towards his family as a provider. He is funny and passionate and listening to him tell stories is hypnotizing. And deep beneath his tough exterior is a man who truly cares about his family but never learnt the right way to show. The tragedy is that his family only learns about this after until his death and after the negative actions he did that tore his family apart.
Troy's relationship with his son Cory is good example of how he misses the mark. Cory is overjoyed because he's been selected for a college football scholarship. Like his father, Cory loves sports, and this is his one chance to go to college. Troy, however, is dead-set against Cory going off to play football.
One of the greatest sources of disappointment in Troy's life is the fact that he couldn't play professional baseball. Though he was a homerun king of the Negro Leagues, he couldn't graduate to the majors because of racial discrimination. Troy refuses to let his son play football, claiming that he doesn't want Cory to suffer the same sort of disappointing outcome.
Everyone around Troy tries to make him see that times have changed, and that Cory will have a better chance. His wife Rose tells him, "They got lots of colored boys playing ball now. Baseball and football" (1.1.76). Troy's best friend, Bono, says, "Times have changed, Troy, you just come along too early" (1.1.77). Cory points out to his father several current black baseball players, like the famous Hank Aaron. Troy dismisses all of this and tells his son, "The white man ain't gonna let you get nowhere with that football noway" (1.3.78).
Cory accuses his father of doing this out of jealousy, saying, "You just scared I'm gonna be better than you, that's all" (1.4.166). He tells Rose, "I got sense enough not to let my boy get hurt playing no sports" (1.3.123). It seems that Troy puts an end to Cory's football dream out of both his own bitterness and an urge to protect his son. In Troy's mind, he doesn't halt Cory's sports career out of jealousy, but out of a fatherly urge to protect his son. It's just these sorts of incongruous collisions inside characters that make them complex.
Troy can't acknowledge that times have changed. Much like Oedipus, he refuses to heed the signs. Instead of giving in to what everyone around him says, he chooses his own course of action, based on his own delusions. Instead of allowing his son to pursue football and college, he destroys his son's dreams, refusing to sign the permission paper and preventing the college recruiter from coming. In the end, Troy loses his son. Like tragic heroes that came before him, Troy dedicates himself to a course of action that he thinks is right, despite mounting evidence to the contrary. Troy misses the mark by doing the wrong thing for what he thinks are the right reasons. This tragic case of hamartia simultaneously destroys his family? and opens up a spot for Troy in the long line of tragic heroes..
Troy definitely had a wide range of environmental influences that shaped him into the man we meet in the play. There's his dad who was mean and didn't show no love to Troy, but kept by his family due to a sense of responsibility, which is molded into Troy's character. There's his failed dream of becoming a baseball player which fills Troy with resentment and fuels his conflict with Cory. Sure Troy can blame his downward spiral on the environmental influences of his life, but this doesn't seem like a good excuse compared to the way his friend Bono lives his life. Bono like Troy didn't have a positive male role model. Unlike Troy's father who Troy walked out on, Bono's father walked out on him. His father moved from woman to woman and despite this Bono has stayed faithful to his wife for eighteen years despite his influences, unlike Troy. So Troy is indeed shaped by the negative influences of his life, but he always had a choice of which path to take and he chose the wrong one.