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Racism in "Master Harold"

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 03:18 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 72.1 
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Racism in African society and its effect on the


character of Hally in “MASTER HAROLD” …AND THE BOYS.




In the play “Master Harold” …and the Boys, Hally demonstrates, through repeated acts and expressions, the sentiment of the entire African society at the time the play takes place. In 1950, the policy of apartheid was beginning to be practiced in South Africa. The Population Registration Act was passed, which divided the population into four racial groups (Post 112).   The Group Area Act of 1950 controlled ownership of property by different races. The 1950 amendment to the Immorality Act prohibited sexual contact between different races. These are the attitudes of the time. Yet, in the beginning of the play, the reader does not sense the separation of Hally and the two black men that later is blatantly portrayed. In fact, we come to learn that Sam and Hally are so close that Hally would actually spend a lot of his time as a child in Sam’s room, where they and Willie would play and talk often. So, for part of the play, Sam and Hally reminisce of the old days. For example, there was one time when Sam built a kite out of brown paper and tomato-box wood pasted together with flour and water and with a tail of Hally’s mother’s old stockings. Hally loved the kite once it was in the air and had a lot of fun with it. Hally almost wishes that he could return to those times because that was a time when “life felt the right size”. (Fugard 379)




Unfortunately, Hally’s mood changes drastically throughout the play. When his mother calls from the hospital with news that his father may coming home, Hally quickly becomes very sharp with the two black men. For example, he says to Sam “Tell me something I don’t know, Sam. What the hell do you think I was saying to my Mom? All I can say is fuck-it-all.” (Fugard 387) One of the first derogatory remarks that Hally makes towards Sam comes shortly after Hally’s first telephone conversation with his mom. He...

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