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

"MASTER HAROLD" . . . and the Boys book cover
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What is the relationship between Hally and his mother in "MASTER HAROLD" . . . and the Boys?

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Jonathan Beutlich, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Hally's relationship with both of his parents can be described with the same word. His relationship with his mother and with his father is broken. I might consider that Hally respects his mother just a little bit more than he respects his father, but that is about the only positive thing I could really be convinced of regarding his relationship with his mother. Hally's dad is a deadbeat drunk of a father. His mother is either naive to this fact or unwilling to stand up to it. Hally even angrily explodes on the phone with her that there"is a lot of things you don't know about." He then explains to his mom how his dad tries to sneak and steal money from them to support his habit. Hally isn't making impassioned pleas to his mother to see his point. He's angrily yelling at her about how blind she is. That's not a respectful and loving way to address a mother.

HALLY. (To the telephone) . . . (Loudly) I said I hope you know what you've let us in for! It's the end of the peace and quiet we've been having.

Audiences never get to meet Hally's dad or mom. All we really get to see is Hally and Sam's relationship, and it becomes clear to audiences that Sam has been a great surrogate parent for Hally. Unfortunately, by the end of the play, Master Harold has burned that bridge too.

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Kitty Sharp eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In Fugard's "MASTER HAROLD". . .and the boys, the relationship between Hally and his mother is weak and seemingly distant. The audience never meets Hally's mother as a present character--she is only referenced in the telephone conversations that Hally has with her while she is at the hospital with Hally's father. But when she calls, she asks Hally to look after his father, which Hally does not want to do. Hally says that his mother allows his father to push her around, and he cannot understand why his mother does not stand up to his father. Both Hally and his mother seem to cower in the shadow of the father, and each wants the other to "solve" the problem. They do not seem to see each other as a support in dealing with the father. Hally wants his mother to be strong so that she can protect him from his father, but his mother does not appear to be in a position to do that for Hally.

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