"MASTER HAROLD" . . . and the Boys Essay - Critical Context (Masterplots II: Juvenile & Young Adult Literature Series)

Athol Fugard

Critical Context (Masterplots II: Juvenile & Young Adult Literature Series)

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

The themes of coming-of-age, racial tensions, and parental conflict in “MASTER HAROLD” . . . and the Boys have much in common with Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884). Its political messages and critique of apartheid fit with Athol Fugard’s other works, especially The Blood Knot (1961), in which two men—one black and the other white—are half brothers. Fugard’s dramatic style is similar to that of Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, and other existential playwrights.

“MASTER HAROLD” . . . and the Boys was first produced at the Yale Repertory Theater on March 12, 1982, and a television version was produced soon after. Although suitable for mature high school students, this play is taught primarily in undergraduate college classes. Deeply rooted in South African culture and politics, it can be used in literature or history classes.