“MASTER HAROLD” . . . and the boys Examines Apartheid (Great Events from History II: Arts and Culture Series)
Article abstract: South African playwright Athol Fugard’s play “MASTER HAROLD” . . . and the boys incisively probed the psychology of racism and the effects of apartheid.
Summary of Event
Set in the St. George’s Park Tea Room in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, on a rainy afternoon in 1950, “MASTER HAROLD” . . . and the boys begins as Sam Semela and Willie Molopo, two black waiters, discuss the forthcoming ballroom dancing championship, which Willie and his girlfriend Hilda Samuels have entered. They are soon joined by Hally, the seventeen-year-old white boy whose mother runs the tea room, though she is now at the hospital from which, to Hally’s distress, his ill and disabled father is soon to return home. After convincing himself that there must be some mistake in that, Hally discusses with Sam his day at school. Soon they revert to a long-established pattern, as Hally teaches Sam from his textbooks. A discussion of moral reformers in history ensues, as they consider Napoleon Bonaparte, Charles Darwin, Abraham Lincoln, William Shakespeare, Sir Alexander Fleming, Leo Tolstoy, and Jesus Christ as examples of a “man of Magnitude” in society, “intrepid social reformer[s]” who are not “daunted by the magnitude of the task undertaken.” When Sam asks “Where’s ours?,” Hally can only answer that South Africa’s may not yet have been born.
Articulate and widely read, though he...
(The entire section is 2361 words.)
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