Rose 1 Master Harold and the Boys: Apartheid Happy Ending Amanda Lynne Rose Apollo Amoko, Advisor Sidney Homan, Second Reader University of Florida College of Liberal Arts and Sciences English Department Spring 2012
Rose 2 Introduction Master Harold and the Boys, by Athol Fugard, presents the experiences of seventeen year old white Hally and his much older, black servants Sam and Willie, in apartheid South Africa. They must manage to live in a society threatene d by racism and bigotry. The play takes and opens with Sam and Willie practicing for a ballroom dance competition. Willie is struggling abusive and absent romantic relationship with his dance partner and girlfriend, Hilda. Further abusive tones are evident between Sam and Willie, as Sam mocks him about his mistreatment of (page 7) is a failure of a father figure, the play shows the increasingly negative cha racteristic similarities of control Hally lessons of dignity and self respect. Sam goes out of his way to shield Hally from ugly racist realities. In turn, the relationship with the school going white child enables Sam to acquire absorbed comments severely test respect in the wake of an embarrassing drunken episode with Hally
Rose 3 and son yet could occur between the most unexpected of people, such as black Sam and white Hally. Evidence proves that Master Harold and the Boys is an autobiographical work. Fugard dynamics are interesting, as the character representing Fugard himself is the only person able to degenerate behavior; the black t ea room workers, Sam and Willie are trapped in apartheid. Only th at Hally grows up to be Athol Fugard who crusades against apartheid and racialism in his suggesting that Hally is indeed the young Fugard. (Sheckels 177) apartheid South Africa. Sam is characterized with two prominent utopian visions: the idea of ballroom boy to keep his chin up in belief that the entire world is not thr eatened by such harsh conditions as apartheid South Africa. Nonetheless, both scenarios are flawed and represent apartheid beliefs because the rules of ballroom dancing are defined by a white society, and Sam could not stay to fly the kite with the young This thesis analyzes the implications that arise from the apartheid mentality in South which contributed to the brutality of
Rose 4 skepticism in the matter. relationship of Hally and his biological father, along with between Hally and Sam in the oice is exceptionally strong in the analysis of what historical comparable characteristics with him, as well as with Jesus Christ, the figure behind Tol Although Master Harold and the Boys with a historical context to inform readers of issues in South Africa. Furthermore, Fugard convincingly proves that contrary to typical apartheid mentality of non existent racial equality, people of different race, class, and gender can overcome disparity to achieve meaningful relationships and reside harmoniously.
Rose 5 A World W ithout Collisions (Wertheim 146) In this context, dance is the agent that overcomes cultural barriers and equalizes political lives to the beauty of life they create throug simplified form, the metaphor [of ballroom dancing] connects the rigor of ballroom practice and the necessity for an eventual triumph in the conversation, Willie struggles to grasp the beauty of ballroom that Sam is professing: more style, make it s Willie: I try hard because it is hard. happy, Wil The concept of ballroom dancing represents a harmonious and racially equal society, while Willie represents the harsh racial reality of the present situation, and Sam represen ts the nave hope for future racial equality. As Sam defines ballroom as happy and romantic, such is exactly what a ballroom competition portrays. Each contestant pair is dressed in extravagant costumes,
Rose 6 and upon the start of the music, each couple bliss fully and gracefully dances around the floor in an organized manner so that there are no collisions. If society functioned without racial inequalities and collisions along with similar structure of a ballroom dancing competition, the world would be a happ ier, more romantic, and graceful place. Just as the dancers revolve around the floor without collision, diverse races should reside harmoniously without conflict. Likewise, as ballroom dancing skills are intricate and challenging to achieve, a harmonious society is a complex concept, yet possible turmoil. Willie reveals w hy he is trying so hard to follow it is difficult for black men to surviv e in the racially unjust society A s a servant, he obtain s no rights or respectable place in society, and ha s no hope for chan ge in the future. Sam recognizes that ballroom dancing must look happy, easy, and natural for the audience to y, a society without racial implications judges look at you and Hild a, they must see a man and a woman who are dancing their way to a a happy ending. For black servants in Apartheid South Africa, the happy ending would be societ endings that Sam is painting could be perceived as his vision of hope for the future.
Rose 7 as they Thus, they must save their money to get home, and hum a tune to practice to. on continues throughout the remainder of the play Hally chooses to write his afternoon school assignment on the topic of South African Ballroom Dance Championships. Hally is obvious with his with his own disillusionment of racial equal left
Rose 8 Crippled Relationships Hally and His Father his father, and those like hi m No doubt, he is bitter toward his father throughout the entire play. His resent ful tone further reinforces story, Hally finally retorts the following: the Comers How to Make a Fuckup of Life Championships. Hang on Sam! The best bit is still coming. Do you pot with roses on the side, winner. (page 51 2) preference to be an alcoholic rather than a l ballroom metaphor by ripping apart every aspect that Sam used to romanticize the concept. For example, whereas the steps are supposed to be beautiful and in sync, Hally is claiming t hat no one knows the steps. With no steps and no rhythm or music to dance to, all that is left is the image of a noisy, music less, chaotic group of people on the dance floor. This image is not beautiful or appealing, and the integration of cripples trip ping others furthers the ugliness of the
Rose 9 the dystopia that was present in society at that time. he crippled, alcoholic father, it resembles his father by being emotionally crippled Hally w a s f o r c e d to cope h is entire existence with his black servant as his only reliable father figure because his biological father was too busy drinking his life away. alcoholic tendencies. (Urban 318) Hally experiences another form of illness : system that deliberately sets out to humiliate black people, even to the point of relegating them to separate benches, entails the danger of habitual indifference to the everyday details that shape black/white relationships and, finally, pervert them. It is not merely that racial prejudice is legislated in South Africa. It insinuates itself into every social sphere of existence, until the very language of ordinary human discourse begins to reflect the policy that makes black men subservient to the power exercised by white children. (Urban 320 1) actions. Hally does not know how to act any different than what society has showed him during his youth.
Rose 10 Although he negative role. According to Hally, h e defines his character whether of sharing racist jokes with him, or by father is mentioned quite early in the play in the following context: Hally goes into the tea room one rainy afternoon after school to find Sam practicing his ballroom dancing. His mother is not there, but rather at the hospital fetching his father to t ake him home. Hally becomes upset and declares that there must be a mistake because conversation with his mother reveals why he becomes so perturbed when he learns tha t his father How am I expected to be fresh for school when I spend half the night massaging his gammy From this passage, it is evident Clearly, h is tone is that of resentment and frustration. Later in the text, the reader learns the source of his resentm ent. Hally resents his father not only for his embarrassing drinking habits, but also because he is physically crippled. He is irritated with having to take care of his father. While the father i s temporarily hospitalized, Hally experiences a period of relief from having to take care of hi m school, and other rather unpleasant chores, such as emptying his bedpan. Hally enjoys this re spite, want his father to return home because he care of him. In the patriarchal society that they live in, it is important so unmanly unlike the black employee Sam.
Rose 11 Dignity and a Homemad e Kite Just as the hospital, the reader can see the increasing control Hally possesses over Sam. For most of the afternoon, Hally engaged in friendly conversation with Sam. However, after receiving another the controlling nature of his father shines through in Hally as he and Sam have the following conversation: Hally: Just get on with your bloody work and shut up. Hally: Yes, it does! Mind your own business and shut up! Hally: Good. Because what you have been trying to do is meddle in something you know nothin g about. All that concerns you in here, Sam, is to try to do what you get paid for keep the place clean, and serve the customers. In plain words, just get on with your job. (page 53) vident. With this power, he is also showing complete disrespect, especially by telling Sam to shut up multiple to Hally and his mother, demanding money for Sam is of a much lower class due to his race. Hally spitting represents extreme abuse and
Rose 12 disrespect. The him. During this turning point of the play, Hally is acting out of anger toward his father for not being there for him and humiliating him with his excessive drinking binges. The following passage is arguably one of the most important of the entire play because it clearly demonstrates spit off of his face. Then he says to Hall y : mean just or decent. (page 56) Sam directly tells Hally actually inflection in the passage seems angry and upset, however, Sam tone, even though the reader clearly knows that Sam is dis gusted Ironically, it becomes evident that Sam and Hally have a closer relationship than the typical master and servant relati onship with no personal interest They obviously know each other on a more personal level since Sam suggested that Hally should be
Rose 13 how his father had scarred him Sam also had enough guts to speak up to Hally and tel l him that he feels safe inside his skin. This furthers the notion that their relationship is not like that of a typical master and servant, but more business or disrespect them in any manner without being harshly punished. In reality, Sam is speaking to Hally in a way that a father would speak to his son ; with brutal honest y by telling valuable life lesson. presents a real problem. In an earlier conversation, Sam and Hally remember a particularly embarrassing episode when the family was summoned to pick up the hopeless drunk at a bar. In Hally had to ask angry memory in the midst of h e afternoon dispute Hally becomes aggravated with then directs his anger toward Sam an d exerts his white superiority over him. Hally tells Sam a showing him his black arse. Hally then spits on him. D uring the
Rose 14 far too much to function, and even more embarrassing, he had to be carried home by a black man. Prior to their fight, Hally and Sam built a considerate and compassionate relationship cl eaned up and in bed, Hally looked to Sam for comfort by staying in his room. His depression and shame made Sam uneasy. Sam decided to make a kite for Hally to fly in the park so that he could or well being. Moreover, Sam Hally proud of himself or even build a kite to fly. Even though Hally was e mbarrassed of the kite at first, due to its composition of tomato box wood, brown paper, his in astonishment. However, in a poignant passage, Sam reminds Hally the full implications of the kite flying. At this point in the play, Sam is attempting to get Hally to stop bashing his father because he knows he will one day regret disrespecting his f ather In the wake of the fight, Sam reminds Hally of a crucial detail, a twist that he had consciously omitted in the first recollection of this incident : After we got him to bed you came back with me to my room and sat in a corner and carried on just lo anything wrong, but you went around as if you owed the world an apology for being
Rose 15 ... But the one person who should have been teaching you what that means was the cause of The image of the white boy flying a kite wi th a black man is incredibly powerful. Sam successful kite construction represents a society where races can function together effectively in peace. The physical act of Hally flying the kite, standing tall and proud looking up to the sky, sho ws a confident Hally, who Sam is trying to positively influence. Sam implements kite flying as a means of teaching Hally to open up his horizons as he looks at the kite in the sky with endless space and innumerable possibilities for positivity. However on a deeper level is evidence of the ugly racial reality that is present. In both memories, it is the black servant who actually works to complete the kite, while white Hally watches with much skeptic ism of the its makeshift materials Hally anticipated run ning home and But as soon as he learns that the kite can successfully fly, Hally hard work. Sam then peace, Sam did not tell him this unfortunate fact of society that it was unacceptable for a black issues in society when he was already dealing with the humiliation of having the comm unity watch his black servant carry his drunken father home from the bar Because of racial inequality, Sam was forced to leave Hally alone in the park to fly the kite.
Rose 16 During their argument at the end of the play, Sam tries to rectify the situation with Hally By trying again, Sam is asking Hally to tr y to fly the kite to mend their troubled relationship. At the end of the play, their relationship remains troubled with acial turmoil This equality and agreement can overcome racial barriers, despite the dyst op ic apartheid mentality present at the time of the play. The Replacement Phenomenon These are not the only p sychological struggles Hally experiences. For Hally, Sam serves rent either gives object is brought into existence almost exclusively as part of an attempt to retain or regain the with the new, substitute child is virtually smothered by oss of a father, rather than a child, he still suffers the absence of a positive father figure, and subsequently, f ills the void in his life of a father figure with Sam as a replacement father. While the psychological implications of the replacement child phenomenon can be enormous, the situation for Hally and Sam is similarly painful if less extreme. Psychological re percussions with a replacement figure like Sam can include a long term struggle to be
Rose 17 considered as good as or equal, coupled with feelings of failure and defeat by the replacing figure. T For example, as explored previously, Sam attempts to teach Hally lessons of self respect that his father should be teaching him, yet instead is actually the one causing Hally the most grief. Sam reveals to Hally of so much! While such lessons should be learned from a father, Sam cared enough about Hally to step in and ure of a biological father. In reality however, Sam will never amount to or not his original, biological father, and the obvious: he is a black man in a socie ty of inequality and racial oppression. No matter his intentions or actions, he will never be equivalent to the white man because of the color of his skin, just as no matter how great the replacement child is, he or she will never equal the parent s origi nal child because he or she is simply not the original. Such a challenging battle e ventually results in feeling failure and ultimately giving up in both the replacement child and Sam. Psychoanalyst Sabbadini uses Vincent van Gogh as an so failed. A long time ago I promised himself failing Hally as a father figure because of Hally disrespecting and spitting on him. Sam feels that if he had succeeded, Hally would not have acted in such an atrocious manner. Instead, Hally reverts back to the awful
Rose 18 a waste. Additionally, the parent figure who is replacing his or her child (Hally in this case) endeavors uses a defense tactic to relieve his pain of a lacking f ather and guilt for treating Sam so horribly. utopian society in ballroom dancing. He also abuses Sam by spitting on him and telling Sam the following joke h himself and his poor father situation. He wants so desperately for his biological father to care about him half as much as Sam does, and similar to the parent replacing his or her deceased blameless and the rea (Sutton 2)
Rose 19 Men of Magnitude Historical Significance alcoholic tendencies and ill absorbed and self centered brat that he really is. Hally fails to realize that he is a contributing factor to the vulgarity of society. This notion is evident during the debate on men of m agnitude that he and Sam have I rony is They be teacher beating him as punishment for doodling in class. Sam expresses the vulgarity of whippings for prisoners in jail. Hally is uneasy as Sam details that one policeman holds a to listen anymore after Sam reveals the enjoyment the police officers feel as they are committing the act. The next conversation occurs immediately following: think of it. People can be real bastards. have to be that way. There is something called progress, you know. Sam: Like Joan of Arc.
Rose 20 Sam: And then the death sentence. Hally: I know, I know! I oscillate between hope and despair for this world, as well, Sam. But things will change, you wait and see. One day somebody is going to get up and give history a kick in the backside and get it going again. (page 15) Interestingly, t his specific conv ersation see the play with his views regarding societal progress. Ironically, Hally is just as nasty as the people he is talking about He is in fact hypocritical and further contributes to the problem s of society It is unscrupulous to call someo ne else a bastard for enjoying the beating of another human being, when he himself is guilty of mentally and verbally abusing Sam. In addition, ridiculous. How much progress has society undergone when a black man is a servant for a white family? How much advancement has there been if seventeen year old, white Hally is allowed to boss the much older black servant around and force the servant to call him Master Harold? How much progress has there really been if a black man is prohibited from sitting on a bench because Furthermore, insisting that someone such as Joan of Arc would gain a fa ir trial in society at that time is nave for Hally to say. In this instance, Joan of Arc is no different than a black person who is jail ed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time without a pass book and no different than black rights activists who were killed for standing up for freedom and equality. Africa; however she was treated no different than those who suffered the wrath of apartheid. Whe n Sam points out that the harsh reality of the world is still not fair because even if Joan of Arc had been given a trial, she would
Rose 21 righteous attitude is further accentuated. igno rance climaxes world, he would not be contributing to a bigotry filled society. actions througho ut the play reveal to the reader that he is far from having hope for a brighter future, as he is clearly unhappy with his father yet still mimics his poor attitude It is interesting to note that even at the s page 59) He preaches great ideas to Sam, but despises hi s father, yet acts just like him, only furthering societ y s racial injustices The conversation turns inquisitive as Hally explains to Sam the concept of social reform, which is exactly what the apartheid society desperately needed. The two begin to di scuss believe have positively influenced history book and determines that Napoleon is a good example after r eading the following: After concluding peace with Britain in 1802, Napoleon used a brief period of calm to in sti tute [corrected by Hally as Introduce] many reforms. Napoleon regarded all people as equal before the law and wanted them to have equal oppo rtunities for advancement. All ves ti ges of the feu dal system with its oppression of the poor were abolished. (page 18) This excerpt was carefully chosen by Fugard to make a statement about the advancement and abolishment of apartheid. As a leader duri n g the French Revolution, Napoleon was able to
Rose 22 dismiss oppression, giving everyone opportunity to achieve equality. He was one of the many social reformers to shape France into what it has become. However, Hally Napoleon as exemplary of h is conf shows that he does n o t grasp the importance of a non oppressive society. Apartheid reformers cou wavering back and forth between hope and despair for the future is nonsense especially when he ial as Napoleon. Hally further reveals that his candidate for a man of magnitude is Charles Darwin becomes obvious that Darwin is more significant to Hally persona of the fittest, which i n are directly r elevant to Hally, who cares only about himself. Why would Hally care that Napoleon served France with a system of equality, when he has never had to suffer under a system of oppression? It is evident that Hally deciphers significance and greatness by the therefore he acknowledges Darwin with a higher regard Fugard strategically made or a man of magnitude Abraham Lincoln who free d slaves after the Civil War. Because Hally has no direct tie to or benefit from Lincoln, of get sentimental, Sam. Yo
Rose 23 condescending tone self. Although Sam has never been treated as poorly as a slave, he is basically in the same standing as a slave in the South African society. Just as slaves were unequal with their white owners, Sam is in a similar position, working for a white family to barely make ends meet. Addit ionally, neither slaves nor Sam ha s the opportunity to hire personal servants. While the terms slave and servant are different, they share similar connotations. Moreover, Hally must see himself as better than Lincoln to be able to disparage his statu s T his pompous comment explains entire attitude. ghted two historical figures of greatness who impacted the abolishment of inequality. Fugard demonstrates the ignorance of South African citizens such as Hally to highlight the importance and necessity of social reform and equality. The inclusion of such men of magnitude as Napoleon and Lincoln provide s readers powerful plea and suggestion for reform. Sam suggests a few other men of magnitude, including William Shakespeare and Jesus Christ, but neither are considerable Interest ingly, Hally presents a noteworthy case for his next man of magnitude. He touts (page 21) Hally proceeds to characterize Tolstoy: Not many intellectuals are prepared to shovel manure with the peasants and then go home War and Peace Incidentally, Sam, he was somebody else
Rose 24 serfs of his own free will. (page 21) Ironically, Hally seems to idolize this figure who impacted society by freeing serfs, amongst other acts However, he quickly dismiss es other historical figures who likewise positively influenced civilization. Hal ly continues sharing his admiration for Tolstoy by comparing Tolsto y : ight Because Hally is so engrossed in his own world, it is not surprising that he would wrongly consider himself similar to the greatness of someone such as Tolstoy. Urban goes on to disc uss a In addition, Tolstoy can be recognized for his strong religious beliefs and c omposition of texts such as The Kingdom of God Is Within You. The philosophy that became known as 'Tolstoyism' was outlined in the body of work the writer produced from the late 1870s onwards. It was essentially a form of Christian anarchism based on the doctrine of non (Alston 1) After emphasis on greatness, next recomme ndation for a man of magnitude wa s Jesus Christ. Hally immediately responds, come on, Sam! Koran is
Rose 25 as bad as the Bible. No. Religion is out! not going to waste my time again arguing with you about the existence of God. You know perfectly well an (page 22) Such ideologies severely contrast the base of beliefs of teaching, thus further distancing Hall false reality that he is anything like Tolstoy. Sam, Tolstoy, and Jesus Christ However, in the play like as well as assisting and encouraging him to quit abusing Hilda. Sam never loses his cool with any of the other characters, even after Hally s pits in his face. Throughout their entire dispute, including behavior is comparable with Gandhi When talking to Hally, Sam expresses admiration for However, more notably, perhaps Fugard implemented similarities between Tolstoy and extending to a comparison of Jesus symbol of Christ t hroughout, in part by portraying him as a servant literally suffering, who must policeman pulls down your trousers and holds your ankles, another one pulls your shirt over your
Rose 26 es you the strokes talks to you gently and for a 30, the soldiers are preparing Christ to be hanged: Then he released Barabbas to them, but after he had Jesus scourged, he handed him over to be cruci fied. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside the praetorium and gathered the whole cohort around him. T hey stripped off his clothes and threw a scarlet military cloak about him. Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head, and They spat upon him and took the reed and kept striking him on the head. Just as the guards physically abused the black man in jail, the soldiers surr ounded and verbally mocked by their abusers. Additionally, the image of soldiers spitting on Christ strongly parallels Hally spitting on Sam in their fight at the end of the play. Before he was crucified, Christ was forced to carry his cross to the top of a hill. As Hally reca that the homemade kite actually flew successfully, whereas again to forgive sinners of their sins. words and actions is unmistakable: Sam forgives play, Sam exhausts every effort to gain mutual forgiveness between he and Hally in attempt to salvage their relat ionship, including asking him to fly the kite again
Rose 27 ortunately, a adds, to try again after the rain clears, Hally with an indifferent Hally.
Rose 28 Conclusion Despite the unresolved argument at the end of the play and the apartheid attitude of non existent racial equality, Fugard successfully proves people of different cultural backgrounds can overcome obstacles to achieve emotional relationships and reside harmoniously. Master Harold and the Boys vision of a world in which society functions without racial barriers, as a means to appease his guilt for contributing to the apartheid regime earlier in his life. Although racial issues are present under the surface, above the surface, Sam and Hally c ivil and racial differences do n o t interfere with their relationship until the end of the play when The thesis r a utopian society. While Sam and Willie are hopeful for a world that functions with grace and order like a ballroom dancing competition, Hally is skeptical of such a utopia because of diverse members of society like his father He despises his alcoholi c and crippled father, and although Hally treats Sam as inferior, Sam becomes a replacement figure for his biological father. He teaches Hally self respect through building a kite and encouraging him to literally and metaphorically hold his head high when flying it and in life. However, Hally will never fully respect Sam in the fatherly role because of socie discussion between Sam and Hally on men of historical significance, Fugard utopian society One of the most profound images of is ballroom dancing, despite its preconceived white rules. Hally even titles his afternoon homework assignment on the topic
Rose 29 cultural barriers, and its prac titioners surmount international differences far more effectively than or as Sam Fuga rd clearly presents his hopeful ideas of society functioning as a whole to transcend racial barriers and end racism. A lthough Hally did not change the system as a child, he grew up to be Fugard, a white playwright attempting to inform others o f the atroci ties of apartheid. By not as an adult, and confronting his personal guilt through composing the play, he in turn helped prevent the perpetuation of apartheid beliefs that were eve ntually abolished in 1994. Ma ster Harold and the Boys autobiographical approach to a post apartheid happy ending.
Rose 30 Works Cited History Today 60.10 (2010): 30 36. Academic Search Premier. Web. 5 Mar. 2012. Explicator 58.2 (2000): 109. Academic Search Premier. Web. 27 Jan. 2012. Benson, Mary. Athol Fugard and Barney Simon: Bare Stage, a Few Props, Great Theatre Randburg South Africa: Ravan, 1997. Print. Cain, Albert C., and Barbara S. Cain. "On Replacing A Child." Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry 3.3 (1964): 443 56. Print. he English Journal 78.6 (1989): 71. Academic Search Premier. Web. 27 Jan. 2012. Fugard, Athol. Master Harold and the Boys New York: A.A. Knopf, 1982. Print. Gainor, J. Ellen., Goellner, Ellen W., and Murphy Jacqueline Shea. ""A World Without Collisions": Ballroom Dance in Athol Fugard's "Master Harold" ...and the Boys." Bodies of the Text: Dance as Theory, Literature as Dance New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers UP, 1995. 125 38. Print. Holy Bible: New International Version Colorado Springs: International Bible Society, 1984. Print. Sabbadini, Andrea. "The Replacement Child." Contemporary Psychoanalysis 24 (1988): 528 47. Print. Sheckels, Theodore F. The Lion on the Freeway: A Thematic Introduction to Contemporary South African Literature in English New York: P. Lang, 1996. Print. Explicator 59.2 (2001):
Rose 31 109. Academic Search Premier. Web. 15 Feb. 2012. Renascence 62.4 (2010): 311 326. Religion and Philosophy Collection. Web. 20 Jan. 2012. Master Harold and the Boys. South Pacific Association Newsletter 30 (April 1990) 146.