The Effects of Racism on Hally in Master Harold and the Boys by Athol Fugard

The Effects of Racism on Hally in Master Harold and the Boys by Athol Fugard

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The Effects of Racism on Hally in Master Harold and the Boys by Athol Fugard


In the play Master Harold and the Boys, Hally demonstrates, through repeated acts and expressions, the sentiment of the entire African society at the time the play takes place. In 1950, the policy of apartheid was beginning to be practiced in South Africa.

The Population Registration Act was passed, which divided the population into four racial groups (Post 112). The Group Area Act of 1950 controlled ownership of property by different races. The 1950 amendment to the Immorality Act prohibited sexual contact between different races. These are the attitudes of the time. Yet, in the beginning of the play, the reader does not sense the separation of Hally and the two black men that later is blatantly portrayed. In fact, we come to learn that Sam and Hally are so close that Hally would actually spend a lot of his time as a child in Sam?s room, where they and Willie would play and talk often. So, for part of the play, Sam and Hally reminisce of the old days. For example, there was one time when Sam built a kite out of brown paper and tomato-box wood pasted together with flour and water and with a tail of Hally?s mother?s old stockings. Hally loved the kite once it was in the air and had a lot of fun with it. Hally almost wishes that he could return to those times because that was a time when ?life felt the right size?. (Fugard 379)

Unfortunately, Hally?s mood changes drastically throughout the play. When his mother calls from the hospital with news that his father may coming home, Hally quickly becomes very sharp with the two black men. For example, he says to Sam ?Tell me something I don?t know, Sam. What the hell do you think I was saying to my...


... middle of paper ...


...e end of the day feels no better about himself than he did before. Sam?s inaction did not have the effect on Hally he might have hoped for. But Sam loved the boy, and wanted to teach him the right attitude to have. Unfortunately, the effect society had on Hally?s character was too deep. So Hally is just a product of his circumstances, and nothing more.

Works Cited

Allison, Kimberly J., ed. The Harcourt Brace Casebook Series in Literature: ?Master Harold? ?and the boys. Fort Worth: Harcourt, 1997.

Durbach, Errol. ??Master Harold? ?and the boys: Athol Fugard and the Psychopathology of Apartheid.? Allison 68-77

Fugard, Athol. ?Master Harold? ?and the boys. Allison 20-63

Post, Robert M. ?Racism in Athol Fugard?s ?Master Harold? ?and the boys?. Allison 111-117

Vandenbroucke, Russell. ?Fathers and Son: ?Master Harold? ?and the boys?. Allison, 77-88

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