Master Harold and the boys is autobiographical as Athol Fugard is Hally and Master Harold in the play. It is about how the typical white person used to treat the blacks in the apartheid era. Athol Fugard was ashamed of how he treated Sam and Willie the black men who worked for his mother. He therefore wrote this play to atone for what he did. This play is set in Hallys mothers small tearoom in Port Elizabeth. I will be discussing the personal dimension of the play, political occurrences and the unusual togetherness between Sam and Hally by discussing: the title, kite flying, bench, ballroom dancing and the character of Hally.
The title Master Harold and the boys shows us how racist the whites were in the apartheid era, every black used to be called a boy and a kaffir throughout the play, the black men are called kaffirs and the blacks had to call every white Master or Madam. On the contrary, at the beginning of the play one sees how Hally gives respect to the black men: Sam and Willie, he greets them in a friendly manner saying Hello chaps.
From this we learn that Hally is very confused, on the one hand his family is racist and hate the blacks (which is a microcosm for most white people at the time) yet on the other hand he feels a sense of pithiness towards the blacks and deep down wants to treat them as normal people. We see that whenever the blacks tried to do something the whites used to doubt their ability, Hally doubts the ability of Sam: What the hell does a black man know about flying a kite but as soon as the blacks did something productive or correct the whites used take the credit.
Sam built Hally a kite. At first Hally didnt even want to try to fly it, but as soon as the kite was a success Hally said: Weve done it. We see the unity and togetherness between Sam and Hally at this stage. It is amazing how a servant can become a fatherly figure. It is over here that we see that the two subjects become one, the miracle happened. When Hally said: tugging it as if it wanted to be free, this is a reference to the entire South Africa.
This is more than politics, not only did the blacks want to have freedom but many people in general have many problems in work, families and life – they have to control their kite and keep trying and believing and eventually their kite will fly just like Hallys. In the novel the black men did all the work, without them doing all the unskilled labour South Africa would not have been able to function, just like Hally took the credit for anything the black men did in the play so too, the whites took all the credit in the apartheid error. When Hally and Sam were going about to sit on the bench and Sam left, I had work to do.
Hally (representing the whites) was sitting on the bench and Sam told Hally: if youre not carefulyoure going to be sitting there by yourself for a long time to come, shows how the whites can be racist for as long as they want but all theyll be doing is sitting on the bench by themselves while the blacks advance. At the end of the play, when the black men dance together at the end of the play and Willie says: You lead, I follow, this is exactly what is happening to this day, the blacks are dancing, enjoying life and their rights, just as the whites didnt care about the blacks in the apartheid, the blacks dont care about the whites now.
Hally is very confused and his life is a storm. We see the defiance of convention of Hally, at times Hally is friendly and caring, he says, hows it chaps? at other times Hally is unfriendly and malicious: get on with your work and sometimes Hally is insightful: Sam, youve got a vision. We learn a very important lesson when Hally spits in Sams face: If Sam was like a father to Hally, and they both loved each other very much, why did Hally spit in Sams face? We always hurt the people whom we love most. This is not just politics but a lesson for life.
The play is autobiographical to Fugards life. Fugard writes Master Harold and the boys to atone for the day that so many people were hurt. He reconciles (through the character of Hally) for the ill-treatment of Sam, especially for spitting in his face that afternoon. In conclusion we see that this play is more than politics and is personal to Fugard and ourselves. The blacks and whites can choose to either carry on sitting on their benches or to get of the benches and unite and live happily together, the outcome of this will be utopia.