Essay on Master Harold...and the Boys

731 Words Nov 13th, 2005 3 Pages
In the mid-twentieth century, the country of South Africa was dominated by the policy of apartheid, a separation and segregation based on race. "Master Harold"…and the boys, written by Athol Fugard is a semiautobiographical drama which portrays what happens in a society composed of institutional anger between whites and blacks.

Master Harold, otherwise known as Hally, is the 17 year old son of a wealthy white couple who own St. George's Park Tea Room. The play is set in Port Elizabeth, South Africa in the 1950's. Hally wanders into the fashionable tea room one rainy day to find its two black employees, Sam and Willie, practicing for an upcoming ballroom dancing competition.

Sam and Willie have been Hally's second family since
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Nevertheless, in real life "none of us knows the steps…we're bumping into each other all the time."
Just as imaginations and emotions are summiting, Hally receives a phone call from his mother. He learns that his crippled, alcoholic father, who is as destructive to his son as he is to himself, is about to be released from the hospital. Hally's father's afflictions make Hally the symbolic heir to the crippled, ineffective society of apartheid. Frustrated over the return of this father, the play transforms into an all out racial conflict.

Hally takes his anger out on Sam and Willie, tearing their dreams concerning the competition apart. He mocks their goals, and becomes cynical about what dancing truly means to them. As his aggravation grows, Hally hurts Sam and Willie as he has been hurt by his father in the past. Hally is unable to deal with the knowledge that "the boy's" have mentored him through the years and developed a friendship that their society is not allowed to tolerate. He spits in Sam's face, which shines a harsh light into the institutional policies of hatred that were fostered in the apartheid system, and ultimately demands that both Sam and Willie call him "Master Harold."

Hally genuinely cares for Sam and Willie, but is torn between governmental and parental

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