Master Harold... And the Boys
The Symbolism of Ballroom Dancing
In the play "Master Harold... And the Boys," ballroom dancing extends far beyond jazz music, swishing skirts and sashaying couples. It takes on a universality of meaning as a symbol of a "world without collisions," an inherent desire, a dream, an inspiration, which - even if it is not fully understood - must surely be shared by all men. In the historical context of the play, a "world without collisions" implicitly refers to a South Africa without any traces of friction between the different races. It raises questions as to whether or not this is a mere fantasy. Hally's relationship with Sam and Willie reflects humanity's potential to dispel racial boundaries, and this encourages the audience. Simultaneously, however, the play casts a shadow on our hopes as a rift is created between them, and we are left to wonder if it can be healed.
True to this ambiguity, Hally "oscillate[s] between hope and despair for this world." Hally's cause for despair is his unsatisfactory father who is a self-centred, drunken cripple of a man. Although he is not directly present in any scene, his presence permeates through the play in the form of Hally's bitterness and hostility. Hally's...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 921 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 7293 literature essays, 2059 sample college application essays, 302 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in