Bowdoin Reads

Rory Brinkman '11 is reading...

'Master Harold'...and the Boys
by Athol Fugard

Athol Fugard’s ‘Master Harold’… and the Boys offers a glimpse into some of the fraught but affectionate relationships that occurred between older, black South Africans and young white South Africans during Apartheid. Set in a tearoom in Port Elizabeth, the play has only three characters: Sam (a black waiter in his mid-forties), Willie (also a black waiter about the same age), and Hally or Harold (a seventeen-year old white boy). It’s a quick read, but well worth an attentive eye. Amongst other themes, the play explores the three characters’ ambiguous relationship. In legal and political terms, their relationship is quite clear. As a white South African who is looking after the tearoom for his parents, Hally has authority and control over Sam and Willie. Yet, this master-servant relationship cannot contain their affinity for one another, and so their socially designated roles crumble, when, for instance, Sam attempts to teach Hally to respect his alcoholic father, even though Hally’s father treats Hally awfully, or when they speak about Sam’s upcoming dance contest. However, they never completely depart from their socially designated positions. Instead, they move uneasily from one type of relationship to another, from a master-servant relationship to a father-son relationship and back, for example. It’s poignant, funny, and perceptive. I thoroughly recommend it.

1 comment | Find in library

Submitted by rwilson on Sun, 02/13/2011 - 12:05am.
Thanks for sharing!