Master Harold and the Boys

Master Harold and the Boys

by Athol Fugard


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Drama / 3m (1 white, 2 black) / Int.

The role that won Zakes Mokae a Tony Award brought Danny Glover back to the New York stage for the Roundabout Theatre's revival of this searing coming of age story, considered by many to be Fugard's masterpiece. A white teen who has grown up in the affectionate company of the two black waiters who work in his mother's tea room in Port Elizabeth learns that his viciously racist alcoholic father is on his way home from the hospital. An ensuing rage unwittingly triggers his inevitable passage into the culture of hatred fostered by apartheid.

"One of those depth charge plays [that] has lasting relevance [and] can triumphantly survive any test of time...The story is simple, but the resonance that Fugard brings to it lets it reach beyond the narrative, to touch so many nerves connected to betrayal and guilt. An exhilarating play...It is a triumph of playmaking, and unforgettable."-New York Post

"Fugard creates a blistering fusion of the personal and the political."-The New York Times

"This revival brings out [the play's] considerable strengths."-New York Daily News

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780573640391
Publisher: Samuel French, Incorporated
Publication date: 07/16/2010
Pages: 78
Sales rank: 759,383
Product dimensions: 4.80(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

Athol Fugard was born in South Africa in 1932 and is an internationally acclaimed playwright. His best-known plays include Bloodknot (1961); Boesman and Lena (1969); Sizwe Bansi Is Dead (1972); The Island (1973), and My Children! My Africa! (1989).  

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Master Harold...and the Boys 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
jwhenderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Master Harold" and the boys is a short play that has an immense impact upon first reading. The playwright Athol Fugard manages to imagine a relationship between a boy and two Black servants in early 1950s in South Africa and make it become a universal experience that continues to resonate with readers in the Twenty-first century. I was impressed with the economy of words that were used to express multiple levels of feeling and meaning throughout the play. The culture of England, long the colonial power in this country, is also ever present in language and simple things such the names of towns.The basic story is a simple tale of a boy, Hal, on the verge of manhood struggling with his education and his relationship both with his friends, the Black servants Sam and Willie, and his father who is nearing the end of what must have been a tyrannical patriarchy. Hal, who is "Master Harold" to Willie and plain Hally to Sam and everyone else, struggles through the issues of his relationships and what they mean until the difficulties with his father overtake him and he lashes out at the Black servants, reminding the reader that this is the era of apartheid and this is South Africa. One of the most powerful metaphors is that of the dance that is used from the opening of the play and culminates in a beautiful moment as the linchpin for transcendent beauty and the meaning of art. The day ends with tentative attempts at reconciliation, but we are left wondering whether the next day will bring a new level of maturity and hope for the master and his boys or more of the same tensions that make compassionate friendship crumble in this moving drama.
paulafonseca530B on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Audience: Grade 9 and UpSouth Africa, 1950. Sam and Willie, black men in their mid-forties, are working at a tearoom. The men are practicing for an upcoming ballroom competition when Harry, the white seventeen-year-old son of the owners, arrives from school. Harry and Sam engage in intellectual sparing as they discuss men of magnitude. The lively conversation turns into reminiscing as Sam remembers his first interactions with Harry. The tone is friendly until Harry receives news that his father is leaving the hospital to return home. Harry¿s mood turns sour, and he takes his anger out on Sam and Willie. The angrier Harry gets, the uglier his behavior becomes, and Sam and Willie are faced with humiliation as Harry repeats his father¿s language of the apartheid. A line is crossed that will forever change Harry and Sam¿s relationship. Athol Fugard¿s ¿Master Harold¿¿and the Boys is a one-act play that exposes the injustices of the apartheid system. The grown men know that standing up to the teenager¿s humiliation would mean paying a price too high that neither one can afford. It is hard not to cringe when Harry devolves into a bigot and repeats the words of his father to subjugate Sam and Willie. The tearoom becomes a microcosm of a country where policy dictated one¿s place in society based on one¿s skin color. The play is a study in power¿who has it and who does not, and the implications to interpersonal relationships. Harry sees himself as Sam¿s mentor, therefore in power; when Sam seeks to dissuade Harry from speaking poorly of his father, Sam¿s reaction is to dig deep into the discourse of bigotry to put Sam back in his place. The play offers rich material for discussions about racism, bigotry, power, and human relations.
DeirdreHarris on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Seventeen-year old Hally, also known as Master Harold, get into trouble with Sam and Willie two black men who work for his family, due to the frustration and fear he feels about his crippled and alcoholic father getting out of the hospital. This play has a mature subject matter about race relations in South Africa. It could be used to compare aspects of apartheid with segregation in the United States in the classroom.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Master Harold takes intimate conflict to describe the larger conflict of racism. The characters of Sam and Willie follow and break conventions of ¿the black man¿. Conventionally they are poor and uneducated, but unlike the stereotype of simple-mindedness, they are 3-dimensional, introspective, dignified characters. Hally, as a white man, is educated and has decent money, but he is less dignified than Sam or Willie as his capacity for hate and bitterness is much stronger. Athol Fugard has taken the sterotypes and inverted them upon themselves, showing how shallow they can truly be.

When Hally inevitably degrades and slurs Sam and Willie, Fugard is quick to point out that it is not because of what they have done, or even Hally¿s dislike of them. He directs the reader to Hally¿s struggle with his dad¿s inability to be a role model which creates the bitterness inside of Hally which is then released upon the two easiest targets: Sam and Willie. He knows he can do this because at the time, racism was an acceptable policy in South Africa.

This is what I find most interesting about the book. Most other novels about racism take on the broad view of racism in society, but Fugard brings it down to a personal level, and that is where racism is. Racism is a personal hate against certain peoples excused by stereotypes to allow the racist to feel powerful and justified in their hate. Fugard shows how the problem is not with the races, but how people deal with their hate and how they take it out on other people. Because of this unique view, I recommend this book to anyone who has experienced racism.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book! There are a lot of very interesting symbolism and metaphors. Very thought-provoking on racism and how it has changed since the time the book was written. Very good book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a roller coaster of emotions that hits hard. Anyone who has ever experienced racism ought to read this, and anyone who thinks they've never encountered it--much less handed it out themselves, must read it!