The Importance of the "Spitting Scene" in Master Harold... and the Boys

Topics: Racism, Black people, White people Pages: 6 (2417 words) Published: May 7, 2011
The play “Master Harold”... and the Boys”, by Athol Fugard, illustrates life in South Africa under the apartheid rule. The play is written in the South African context and the issue of apartheid is central in the play. The play is an informative and autobiographical one-act play about the relationship between Hally, Willie and Sam. Throughout “Master Harold”.....and the Boys, Fugard describes many emotions that take place between the characters, to which different reactions are noted. The primary emotions in the play are love, happiness and anger. In each, the reactions can be seen as good and bad. Racial prejudice was very common and constantly relevant during apartheid rule. The consequences were enormous for the Black society, who were basically kept in prison on native land. The Whites determined their lives, educated and passed down laws for Blacks. Thus the relationship between the two controversial racial groups in most cases was not very good, because life of a Black native South African was oppressed. The three most significant characters of the play are Master Harold, member of the White race and also referred to as Hally, secondly the Black Sam and thirdly also a Black servant named Willie. Both Sam and Willie are servants working for Harold’s family. The typical relationship between a Black and a White during apartheid rule was very distant. The Whites were the dominant people, acting as masters while the Blacks were seen as naturally inferior and thus were oppressed. The relationship between Hally and Sam, however, does not follow the typical pattern. Their relationship is a friendlier and open one. Sam, unlike his colleague Willie who calls Hally “Master Harold,” refers to the White teenager simply as Hally. This was obviously not very common during apartheid rule, with most Blacks finding themselves in the same position as Willie. Like most Blacks Sam is uneducated. However, he is interested in learning and gains his personal education from Hally’s textbooks which he brings home after school. Their friendly relationship can be exemplified by their dialog held throughout various educational topics and world significant figures. Throughout this dialog both Sam and Hally set forward arguments trying to check the other and both characters succeed in winning over one argument over the other person. This illustrates their friendship, because Hally accepts Sam’s choice of Alexander Fleming as a man of magnitude. First of all, most Blacks at that time would probably never know who Alexander Fleming was and his significance in contribution to medical advancements and secondly at all it was through Hally that Sam gained such knowledge. This example underlines the significant difference in communication relevant in Sam and Hally’s relationship compared to other White-Black relationships during apartheid rule. Sam, even though a black has been helping the white boy Hally as a mentor and a moral guide. They have been living as friends despite the gap that exists between them as people of two races. Natural human qualities manifest in their relationship. Though Hally has been culturally and psychologically conditioned and trained to think of himself as superior to the black characters, the time he spends in their company has helped develop his emotional attachment to Sam as a moral teacher. Though a black, Sam provide the white boy with sincere and responsible parenting. It is ironic that a black man in apartheid South Africa has the inner core and strength to teach living skills to a privileged white boy. After the second temper flair up in the play, the tempo settles again, where Hally, Willie, and Sam discuss the dance and Sam gives his metaphor on dancing. Sam’s engaging and subtle analysis of the dance contest for which Willie practices as a symbol of a harmonious world where no one “bumps” into anyone else, not onlyt hat tells us that Sam is intelligent and perceptive, but also helps Hally to realize that...
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