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...

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