"MASTER HAROLD" . . . and the Boys Questions and Answers
by Athol Fugard

"MASTER HAROLD" . . . and the Boys book cover
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In "MASTER HAROLD" . . . and the Boys, why does Sam want Hally to understand the importance of ballroom dancing?

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As well as seeing it as an escape from his humdrum, impoverished existence, Sam looks upon ballroom dancing as a metaphor for a better, more harmonious world. As he tells Hally, with ballroom dancing there are no collisions; no one trips or bumps into anyone else. Everyone happily does their own thing without causing any trouble.

Contrast that with South African society under apartheid, which is rigidly divided along racial lines. In metaphorical terms, this is a society in which people regularly bump into each other, i.e. are in constant conflict with one another. And it's the same in the world as a whole. The current state of international politics means that the United States is regularly "bumping into" Russia, England into India, and rich men into poor men. As Sam points out, people get hurt in all that "bumping." If only life in South Africa and the rest of the world could be like a ballroom dancing contest, everyone would live in complete harmony.

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