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

"MASTER HAROLD" . . . and the Boys book cover
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What is Hally's personality in the play "MASTER HAROLD" . . . and the Boys?

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Hally's at that difficult age where he's still in the process of growing up. As such, he's somewhat immature—constantly looking for ways to troll his teachers, whom he neither likes nor respects. At the same time, Hally's quite a reflective young man for his age and, unlike many people in apartheid-era South Africa, thinks a lot about the nature of race relations in this deeply-prejudiced society.

Far from making him idealistic, however, Hally's reflections make him bitter and cynical about the world. Such feelings are reinforced by Hally's withering contempt for authority figures: whether it's his alcoholic father, his teachers at school, or those in charge of running the country. Hally's cynicism holds him back from fully embracing his innate impulse toward social reform. He's also held back by his unthinking racist attitudes, which undercut any sympathy he may express for the repressed majority.

It's fair to say that Hally's far from being the finished article; he still has a lot of growing up to do. And the various ambiguities of his complex personality make it difficult to predict exactly what sort of man he'll end up as.

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