Master Harold Essay Research Paper We have

Master Harold Essay, Research Paper We have all heard the saying that the rich keep getting richer while the poor keep getting poorer. This somewhat describes South Africa in the 1950s. During

Master Harold Essay, Research Paper

We have all heard the saying that the rich keep getting richer while the poor

keep getting poorer. This somewhat describes South Africa in the 1950s. During

this time in Africa, the white people kept getting more powerful while the black

population kept getting weaker. South Africa?s apartheid system gave powerful

odds to the whites and created a racist society. In ?Master Harold? ? and

the boys, a book set around the 1950s and during the apartheid system, the

racist attitudes from the apartheid system and Hally?s parents affected how

Hally treated Sam and Willie, who are black and work for Hally?s mother. These

attitudes over-shadowed the good relationship Sam and Hally had built through

most of Hally?s childhood. ?Apartheid was a system that deliberately set out

to humiliate black people, even to the point of relegating them to separate

benches, entails the danger of habitual indifference to the everyday detail that

shape black and white relationship and finally, perverts them.? (Durbach 69).

South Africa passed laws and acts making the black people?s lives degrading

and ensured the white superiority. Four laws were passed in 1950 which included

the Population Registration Act, Group Areas Act, the Amendment to the

Immorality Act, and the suppression of the Communism Act. These laws did several

things including classified people by color, governed areas for living according

to race and controlled ownership of property, prohibited sexual contact across

racial lines, and removed due process of laws for blacks. (Durbach 69).

Apartheid was used in South Africa because the whites, while a minority in the

population, wanted to be in control of the government and society. The way

anything that is smaller in size, and therefore weaker, is able to get power is

through intimidation. The whites made themselves more powerful by making the

blacks feel inferior. The blacks were told they were not good enough and

therefore had to be separated from the whites. The whites belittled and

separated themselves from the blacks so they wouldn?t feel guilty for what

they were doing to them. If you make someone become something other than human

and lower its level, you don?t think you are hurting another person. For

instance owners of pets do not feel guilty when you tie up a dog, or let a pet

sleep outside. Your pet is just an animal therefore they do not mind or expect

much different. Apartheid was more than racial prejudice legislated in South

Africa. It became an everyday belief. Racism became part of everyday living it

was part of schooling, home life, government, and even on public display such as

park benches. It taught society that a seventeen-year old boy was master over

two black men. In the book, Hally is quoted as saying to Sam, ?Because that is

exactly what Master Harold wants from now on. Think of it as a little lesson in

respect, Sam, that?s long overdue.? (Fugard 55) As in the book, a white boy

was respected and looked upon as being higher and better than the black men. In

any other traditional society, a child is to show respect to any adult, no

matter what their color or background. The apartheid system lowered the blacks

to a level lower than children, which was very humiliating, especially for an

adult man. The most important influence on a child is its parents. The

parents? actions, behaviors, and beliefs are passed on to their children. So

many white children from South Africa grew up with parents having racist beliefs

and not knowing anything different. Hally?s parents both had racists beliefs

which influenced his attitude towards Sam and Willie. Hally?s mother owned a

caf?, which employed Sam and Willie, but she never saw them as anything other

than servants. ?My mother is right. She?s always warning me about allowing

you to get too familiar.? (Fugard 53) She took for granted their loyalty and

didn?t appreciate all they did for her business and her son. ?All that

concern you in here, Sam, is to try and do what you get paid for — keep the

place clean and serve the customers. In plain words, just get on with your job .

. . You?re only a servant here, and don?t forget it.? (Fugard 53)

Hally?s father was worse in his racist attitude. His father always wanted

Hally and his mother to take more control over the ?boys?. He wants Hally

and his mother to restrict Sam and Willie?s freedom so they will understand

who is in control and to learn to respect them more. Hally tells Sam, ?I can

tell you now that somebody who will be glad to hear I?ve finally given it to

you will be my Dad. He is always going on about it as well. ?You must teach

the boys to show you more respect, my son.??(Fugard 55) Hally?s father

told him a racist joke that Hally retold to Sam which caused them to have a

dispute. The joke was, ?It?s not fair, is it, Hally? What, chum? A

nigger?s arse.?(Fugard, 55) Hally told the joke because of its racist

context hoping to hurt Sam because the color of his skin. Because of Hally?s

upbringing and parent?s influence, he can?t help but have a warped

preconception about blacks that is similar to his parents. Hally has been taught

that he is superior and until he learns differently, he will always think of

Sam, and all blacks, as lower than himself. Hally tells Sam in reference to

Hally?s father, ?He?s a white man and that?s good enough for

you.?(Fugard 53) Sam knew Hally through most of Hally?s childhood. Sam soon

became a better father figure to Hally than his own real father. Once, Sam built

Hally a kite to raise his head and dignity. Sam explains to Hally, ?If you

really want to know, that?s why I made you that kite. I want you to look up,

be proud of something. Of yourself . . . and you certainly was that when I left

you with it up there on the hill. Oh, ja something else.?(Fugard 58) Sam also

talked and listened to him and taught Hally many lessons. Sam had promised

himself that he would teach Hally that blacks were as human and as good as

whites. He wanted to provide him with a true vision about what society should be

like. He wanted to influence Hally away from the way white South Africans

believed about blacks. At the end of ?Master Harold? ? and the boys, Sam

says that he has failed to meet his goal to change how Hally would turn out. Sam

states, ?That was the promise I made to myself: to try and stop that from

happening.?(Fugard 58) The color of the skin did make a difference to Hally,

and it wasn?t for the better. Sam realized this when Hally told him the joke

and ended up spitting on Sam?s face. Hally failed to take the higher road of

manhood and both he and Sam did not beat the odds. Unfortunately, the apartheid

system, Hally?s parents, and society as a whole had a greater influence on

Hally than the one black man that was like a father to Hally. This ending of the

story made for a very hopeless feeling. If a loyal and loving man can not win

over a boy and change how he views the world, than how is society going to be

able to change any absurd belief? How is change possible? Are we doomed to carry

on the same mistakes? While the book ended with a feeling of – what?s the use?

- it was not conclusive that Hally?s future attitudes would remain the same.

It is up to each reader to judge what lies ahead. I would like to believe that

as Hally matures and because of his good relationship with Sam, he will realize

that his attitudes are not fair and right and learn to be fairer to blacks. If

Sam had not been part of his life, Hally would remain prejudiced. Athol Fugard,

the author of ?Master Harold? ? and the boys, is the basis for the main

character, Hally. He relates his own life?s experiences and lessons through

Hally. He shows how society can be cruel and ugly to the blacks. The book is

used to show how mistakes occur and if we can learn and evolve from them, we

should never convert back to make them again. If you make the same mistake

again, the lesson was never learned in the first place. Athol Fugard overcame

his odds, and if we can learn through his experiences, we will never have a

hopeless ending.

Allison, Kimberly J., ed. The Harcourt brace Casebook Series in Literature:

?Master Harold? . . . and the boys. Fort Worth: Harcourt, 1997. Durbach,

Ettol. ?Master Harold? . . . and the boys: Athol Fugard and the

Psychopathology of Apartheid.? Allison 68-77. Fugard, Athol. ?Master

Harold? . . . and the boys. Allison 20-63