Master Harold... And the Boys

Master Harold and the boys (828-849)

Most of the play is about the relations between Harold\Hallie and his mothers two black employees.So why does the play begin and end with Sam and Willie alone on the stage?

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It is important for the audience/readers to know that the events of the play are highly autobiographical. Athol Fugard went by "Hally" when he was young in order to avoid using his given name, Harold, which was his father's name. Hally's parents in the play are based on Fugard's family, and the setting is based on the restaurant that Fugard's mother ran in South Africa. The characters of Sam and Willie are based on two men who worked at the hotel. In real life, Fugard befriended them in order to escape his spiteful, racist father. Fugard modeled certain plot points after a striking moment from his own past, which "Master Harold"... and the boys allowed him to confront and work through.

It is immediately apparent that Willie is less intelligent than Sam. He is is prone to quick anger and, unfortunately, to domestic violence, but is still somewhat goodhearted and loyal. By the end of the play, Willie demonstrates that he has learned a valuable lesson about how to treat people. He is stubborn and insecure, but clearly enjoys learning how to ballroom dance. Sam, meanwhile, is educated and civil, patient and humorous. He knows how to tease both Willie and Hally and still ensure their affection.