How does ballroom dancing function as a metaphor for the larger meaning of "MASTER HAROLD" . . . and the Boys?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Master Harold ... And the Boys, the larger meaning speaks of abandoning the set ways of society's dictates along with abandoning the psychologically governing and entrenched ways of family behavior. Sam tries to teach Hally (Master Harold) to do this while living under the restrictions and prejudices of apartheid. Sam's teachings are exemplified when Sam extends his hand toward Hally to reconcile their breach as Hally sits alone on the "Whites Only" bench.

Ballroom dancing is a metaphor for this larger meaning because dancing too requires partnerships in learning and invitations to rise from a spectator's bench and accept the hand of another to join the dance. As a dance must be learned together by both partners, so must new ways of living, which reject the banner of apartheid, be learned together by both partners. Sam's invitation to Hally to dance outside of the bondage of apartheid was made with an extended hand as he said:

"You know what that [whites only] bench means now and you can leave it any time you choose. All you've got to do is stand up and walk away from it."

teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "Master Harold". . .and the Boys, dancing functions as a metaphor for the larger meaning of the play in that the ballroom dancing suggests Sam's ideal dream of living in a "world without collisions."  Literally while dancing, the dancers must negotiate the space of the dance floor and execute a dance of grace without bumping into each other.  Metaphorically speaking, Sam wishes that people would also live their lives in the world (the dance floor) without bumping into each other meaning that he wishes people did not have conflicts with one another.  The play is set in South Africa during apartheid, and Sam dreams of a day when prejudice, segregation, and discrimination do not cause conflict in people's lives. 

taangerine | Student

Ballroom dancing signifies a world without collisions -- where everything & everyone corporate and will not bump into each other with difficult situations. Ballroom dancing also demonstrates inclusion as Willie decided to work with Hilda for the competition when he refused to in the latter half of the story. 

mamellojonathan | Student

well i think ballroom dancing in this play basically potrays hope for a better future, a world without racism, discrimination and opression,just a united and cooperative world.

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"MASTER HAROLD" . . . and the Boys

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