Boys is not an overtly political play, but a depiction of "a personal power−struggle
With political implica-tions." The only definition that the South African system can
conceive of in the relationship of White to Black is one that humiliates black people.
This definition "insinuates itself into every social sphere of existence, until the very
language of ordinary human discourse begins to reflect the policy that makes black
men subservient to the power exercised by white children." In the society depicted by
Fugard White equals "Master" and Black equals "boy." It is an equation, continued
Durbach, that ignores the traditional relationship of labor to man-agement or of paid
employee to paying employer.
During the course of the drama, Hally rapidly realigns the components of his
long−standing friend-ship with Sam into the socio−political patterns of master and
servant. Hally changes from intimate familiarity with his black companions to
patroniz-ing condescension to his social inferiors. It is an exercise of power by Hally,
himself a "boy" who feels powerless to control the circumstance of his life and
therefore seeks some measure of autonomy in his interaction with Sam and Willie.
Robert Brustein, in a review in the New Repub-lic, described' 'Master Harold" . . . and
the Boys as the "quintessential racial anecdote," and ascribed to Fugard's writing "a
sweetness and sanctity that more than compensates for what might be prosaic,
rhetorical, or contrived about it." There is a sugges-tion that Fugard' s obsession with
the theme of racial injustice may be an expression of his own guilt and act of
expiation. As Brian Crow noted in the Inter-national Dictionary of Theatre,
Critical Overview 24
"biographical in-formation, however, is not needed in order for the play to make its
full impact in the theatre. This is achieved primarily through an audience's empathy
with the loving relationship between Hally and Sam and... [continues]
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