Hally’s childhood was marked by an alcoholic father and a weak mother who couldn’t stand up to her husband. His friendships with Sam and Willie are in part what got Hally through the difficult days of his youth. When Hally thinks back to those days, Sam and Willie’s room at the boardinghouse that Hally’s mother used to own occupies a special place. He recalls myriad afternoons where he would sneak away from his mother and hang out with the men in their room, playing cards or board games. His description of the room is detailed and full of fond appreciation. Hally’s ability to remember all the features and contents of the room, down to a “wobbly little table with a washbin” shows how important it was to him (73).
The Kite-flying Memory
In Hally’s own words, the day he flew kites with Sam is his best memory “of an unhappy childhood” (67). This memory is so dear to him that he can remember the full range of emotions he experienced and thoughts he had. For example, Hally recalls feeling disbelief when Sam said they were going to fly a kite. When they arrived at the park, Hally remembers, he was planning on running back to the boardinghouse because he was scared of embarrassing himself. The moment the kite soared into the sky felt miraculous to Hally, and his shame was replaced by pride over the achievement of Sam and himself. Hally’s ability to recount frame by frame his memory of flying kites with Sam illustrates how dear the memory is to him. The halcyon, rose-tinted feel of Hally’s description further proves how important the memory is to him.
The Tea Room
As the setting for the play, the St. Georges tearoom is described in detail for readers and potential producers of the play. This allows readers to picture in their minds what the setting of the story looks like. For those intending to stage the play themselves, a detailed description ensures they create a set in line with Fugard’s vision. The tearoom is a one-room affair with a small kitchen in the back. The pastries for sale are stale and the other products for sale are displayed unappetizingly. The decorations include “a few sad ferns in pots” (3), and above all, it is completely devoid of customers. Based on the details given of the tearoom, it seems like it is not very profitable or popular.
Despite never making a physical appearance, Hally’s father has a strong presence in “Master Harold”…and the boys. Hally’s father being a source of the play’s major conflict illustrates this fact. Because of his importance, though we never see Hally’s father, we are given many details about him, details that shape and mold his character. For example, we know that he is a terrible alcoholic who is also absent from Hally’s life. When Hally shares his father’s crass joke about a Black man’s arse, we learn that Hally’s father is fully invested in apartheid’s myths of white supremacy. And finally, when Hally’s father refuses to listen to his wife and doctor’s suggestions to stay longer at the hospital, we know that he is a headstrong, obstinate man that refuses to be swayed once he makes up his mind. All of these qualities create an image of a man that is difficult to love and care for.
Master Harold… And the Boys Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Master Harold… And the Boys is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.