Master Harold and the Boys: Thematic Concerns

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"It's a bloody awful world when you come to think of it. People can be real bastards." (Hally, pp. 15)"Master Harold"... and the boys by Athol Fugard, is an informative text about the relationship between Hally, a 17 year old white boy, and Sam and Willie, two black men. As Hally falls victim to the attitudes of white supremacy and racial intolerances accompanying the Apartheid policy of the 1950's, their lifelong friendship is destroyed. This "bloody awful world" referred to in the above quote is perpetuated by ignorance and the passiveness of its participants. One way to change these intolerances is through the delivery of a liberal education, the purpose of which is to inform students of issues such as racial and social inequality. By emerging students in literature such as the above, not only will they be informed about historical and social aspects of the world, but also the vicious cruelty between races. "Don't be clever, Sam. It doesn't suit you." (Hally, pp. 35) The notion of whites being of a superior intellectual class to blacks, a prejudice that still pervades modern society, emerges from the play as one of the predominant themes. A prevalent example of this can be seen when Hally and Sam argue over the value of ballroom dancing. Hally fails to recognise its simplistic "beauty" and consequently claims the activity to be a "simple-minded" expression of primitive black society. However Sam, through his apparently more refined intellect, is able to convincingly refute Hally's prejudiced argument, exposing the seventeen year old's intellectual inferiority as Hally pompously philosophizes, "What is art? What is life?" (Hally, pp. 40) Thus the injustice of such prejudice is highlighted as the white Hally is revealed to be the black Sam's intellectual inferior. Racial segregation, which forms the basis of the Apartheid policy, perpetuates the notion of white supremacy and is an issue which effectively prevents the South...
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