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Master Harold And The Boys

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The play Master Harold and the Boys by Athol Fugard takes place in a small Tea House in Port Elizabeth in South Africa. The play starts off with Sam and Willie, two black servants at the restaurant cleaning and talking about a ballroom dance tournament coming up. Hally, a teenage white boy whose parents own the restaurant walks in after coming from school and begins to have a conversation with Sam and Willie. In the period of only an hour and a half or so, Sam, Willie, and Hally give a small glimpse of a very big problem. Through past memories they talk about the differences between the white and the blacks from education, to employment, to overall segregation, and to the relationships blacks and whites have with each other.

In the play, Sam and Willie play servants who work at a restaurant owned by Hally’s parents. They have a low level job and aren’t paid much. They are ordered around to basically do everything from cleaning the floors to serving the food. While Hally’s parents sit back and reap all the profits, Sam and Willie work hard to barely get paid anything. Hally and Sam later have a discussion about the Jubilee House, which was a boarding house Hally’s parents used to own. Hally describes the Jubilee house as not the best times of his life. Sam and Willie were also servants at the Jubilee house and they lived in the servants’ quarters, which was separate from the boarding house.

After Hally comes home from school, Sam takes a look at some of his books and asks him questions about what he doesn’t understand or know. They go on to have a discussion about “Men of Magnitude” trying to agree on someone they both think has made an important contribution to the world. After suggesting several names, Sam and Hally eventually agree on Sir Alexander Fleming, the inventor/discoverer of penicillin, as being a man of magnitude who has done something to benefit the world. Sam is very motivated to learn but he never had the opportunity since he is black and the education system for blacks is much poorer than for whites. For years when Hally was in school, Sam would take a peek at his books or ask him questions about what he was learning. Sam is very motivated to learn and since he never had the opportunity to go to school, he had to learn secondhand from what Hally was learning. Sam credits himself as the reason why Hally started doing better in school. They pushed each other to learn more and do better.

The play gives a couple of examples of everyday segregation. One of the first examples also is tied in with the working conditions during the apartheid era. Sam and Willie are servants, which is a low level job. Also, they happen to work in an all white city, and the only reason they are allowed to be in that city is because they work there. Another example is when Sam and Hally are flying the kite, and Sam tells Hally that he has



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