Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 553
Fugard has written nearly two dozen plays. All of them are set in his native South Africa, and many share some of the same qualities Boesman and Lena possesses: intimate, small-cast, poetic dramas set against the beauty of the South African countryside and the tragedy of its politics. Fugard's first big success, The Blood Knot (1961), is about two half-brothers, one black, the other nearly white but technically "coloured,'' and the effects of apartheid on their lives. In Master Harold...and the Boys (1982), a young white South African boy learns some lessons about family, love, and dignity from the two black servants in his parents' cafe. My Children! My Africa! (1989) explores the devastating effects of anti-apartheid demonstrations and township riots on a black teacher and two of his students, one black, the other white.
Fugard's Boesman and Lena takes some of its inspiration from the works of Absurdist playwright Samuel Beckett whose plays often explore the themes of loneliness, despair, and the search for order and meaning in a violent, chaotic world. Beckett's masterpiece is Waiting for Godot (1953), a tragicomic play about two tramps waiting for a mysterious man named Godot, who never arrives. Some of Beckett's other works include Endgame (1957), Krapp's Last Tape (1958), and Happy Days (1961).
Nadine Gordimer's novel July's People (1981) provides a different perspective on race relations in South Africa in the age of apartheid. July is the black servant of white South African architect Bam Smales and his wife, Maureen. In their minds, Bam and Maureen treat July well and deserve his loyalty. When interracial violence spreads across South Africa, July helps the Smales and their children escape to his distant village, where the tables are suddenly turned and his employers must depend upon July for their survival. In the process, they discover that July is more than a simple servant. He is a human being, a man with a life apart from his servitude to their family, in a complex world of politics and human relations where black and white are kept apart and brought together through the painful system of apartheid.
Novelist James A. Michener has written several books of historical...
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