Social Situation In Athol Fugard's Master Harold And The Boys

1500 Words 6 Pages
The events and legislation of the South African Apartheid affected the social reality of the time period and without this understanding, one cannot derive the fact that the affairs that occurred during the time alter the reader’s take on the characterial interactions of the play. The familiarity of the setting and social situation in a play such as Athol Fugard’s “Master Harold”...and the Boys is imperative because of the significance of the time period. The play follows seventeen-year-old Hally, a white boy, and his two African-American servants, Sam and Willie, in Apartheid South Africa. The play’s events unfold during a time of extreme racial injustice and segregation, which alters the perspective and severity of the events that occur throughout …show more content…
Context is still necessary, however, to help the reader view the social impediments in Sam and Hally’s friendship. The reader’s understanding of the time period and setting of the play expose the rarity of the two races coming together in a civil friendship. When one reads without context, it is clear that Sam and Hally share a unique bond. Throughout Hally’s troubled childhood, with an absent mother and alcoholic father, he would often find himself in the servants’ quarters with Sam and Willie. He says to them, “I think I spent more time in there with you guys than anywhere else in that dump. And can you blame me? Nothing but bloody misery wherever you went” (25). Growing up Hally spent most of his free time with Sam which strengthened their bond. To Hally this was completely normal and the fact that they had different skin colors did not phase him at all. Furthermore, the time period of the play makes it evident that the friendships between blacks and whites were almost non-existent. This aspect of their friendship is briefly mentioned when Hally says, “A little white boy in short trousers and a black man old enough to be his father flying a kite. It’s not every day you see that” (31). Hally and Sam clearly have an uncommon relationship, considering their age difference and Sam being Hally’s household servant. In order to …show more content…
With background knowledge regarding the blatantly racist bills and acts that were passed specifically to separate citizens according to skin color the reader is better able to understand the significance of the themes taught through “Master Harold”… and The Boys. To understand the walls that were built between Sam, Willie and Hally, the reader must have first have insight into the legislation that helped to build these walls during this time period to keep people of opposite skin tones apart. A decontextualized reading of “Master Harold”... and the Boys can yield themes that are essentially the same as those gleaned from a contextual reading but much of the significance is lost without

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