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

"MASTER HAROLD" . . . and the Boys book cover
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Please explain the meaning of the phrase, "don't confuse historical significance with greatness," presented in "Master Harold"... and the Boys.

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This line is said by Hally as he and Sam are discussing social reformers. Sam is reading from a textbook about Napoleon as a social reformer. After the two discuss Napoleon, Hally agrees that Napoleon certainly has historical significance but a man of greatness should be, according to Hally, "Someone who has benefited all mankind." A clearer example of this for you would be Hitler. He certainly had historical significance, yet, according to Hally's definition of greatness, he would certainly not be considered a great man!

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