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 Master Harold and the Boys Summary | Detailed Summary

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تاريخ التسجيل : 17/06/2008

مُساهمةموضوع: Master Harold and the Boys Summary | Detailed Summary   السبت مايو 23, 2009 11:50 am

Master Harold and the Boys Summary | Detailed Summary
"Master Harold... and the Boys" is a one-act play which takes place in the St. George's Tea Room in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The three characters, Master Harold (also known as Hally), Sam and Willie explore the concepts of racism and apartheid on a rainy afternoon in 1950.
The restaurant is empty on such a dreary afternoon and Willie, a waiter, is tidying up while a second waiter, Sam, sits and reads comic books at a table set for a meal. Sam and Willie are black men in their mid-forties and have been employed at the St. George's Tea Room for many years.
Willie is anxious because he and his girlfriend are entered in a dance competition to be held in a few weeks and Willie is still uncomfortable with some of the dance steps. Willie is also unsure of his girlfriend's participation because Willie reveals that he has recently beaten her again and she has left. Sam tries to tell Willie what he is doing wrong with both his dance steps and his personal life.
Master Harold, also known as Hally, is the seventeen-year-old white son of the woman who owns the tearoom and has come in from a day at school ready for his lunch. Sam informs Hally that his mother has gone to the hospital where Hally's father is a patient. Sam thinks that Hally's father is to be released today, an idea to which Hally reacts quite negatively.
Hally shares with Sam and Willie that he has been punished with six spankings at school for drawing an irreverent picture of a teacher. Sam explains the humiliating and painful process of caning used as punishment in the judicial system, at which Hally is shocked. Hally bristles at the injustice of the world in general and claims that someday someone will change all the systems that keep inequities and punishment in place.
Hally and Sam discuss the possibility of social reform and the conversation expands to include their personal choices for those people who have made the most significant contributions to mankind. Sam and Hally agree on one final choice and Hally congratulates himself on successfully educating Sam over the years.
Sam and Hally have had a close relationship for many years beginning during Sam's employment at the Jubilee Boarding House, which Hally's mother owned. Hally would seek out Sam and Willie when the activity and conflict in the boarding house was too much for the young Hally. As Hally describes his memories of Sam and Willie's room, the two men recreate the room with the available tables and chairs as stand-ins for the furniture. The three characters fondly reminisce about the days and evenings of reading, learning and games played in the small room.
Then Hally urges Sam to remember the best day they ever spent together and Sam cannot recall at first. Hally continues to remind Sam of the homemade kite he had made for Hally and how Sam taught the boy to fly it in spite of his fears that it would crash and he would be responsible for its failure. Sam's encouragement on the day of the kite flying sparked something in Hally which forged a bond with the two from that point on.
Hally comments on the unusual sight that he and Sam must have been that day; a black man and a small white boy flying a kite. Hally's father is a cripple and Hally muses that being seen with his father in that situation would have been just as strange. As Hally voices his longings for a normal life, he is interrupted by a phone call from his mother telling Hally that his father will be coming home from the hospital today.
Hally launches into a frantic attempt to prevent his father's return and Hally reminds his mother of how difficult life is with his father at home. Hally pleads with his mother to inquire with the doctors to keep him as a patient for a longer period of time.
Hally's irritation extends to Sam and Willie, whom Hally orders to complete their tasks. Hally admits that he does not want his father at home and that life is a complicated mess. To Hally, it seems that just when things are going along just fine, something happens to complicate matters for the worse. Hally calls this the principle of perpetual disappointment.
Sam tries to divert Hally into doing his homework and the boy tries to settle down but is too agitated to concentrate. Sam tries to help Willie with his ballroom dancing steps and the noise is too much for Hally, who cracks Willie on the rear end with a ruler. The two men return to their chores as Hally reprimands them for inappropriate behavior in a place of business.
Sam contends that dancing is a harmless pleasure which does no harm to anyone and tries to get Hally to dance with him. Hally resists, as dancing is a simple-minded enterprise with no real goal. Making people happy is a good thing, according to Sam and that is exactly what dancing does. To Sam, dancing is also a thing of beauty and he encourages Hally to attend the dance competition to understand what he means.
Sam wants Hally to attend the upcoming dance competition to experience the music and the energy so that Hally can know the beauty and the power of the championship. Hally is still skeptical, so Sam and Willie attempt to set the scene in the tea room by explaining the elegance of the ladies and the formality of the occasion. Hally wonders what the impact is when someone bumps into someone else, to which Sam replies that there are no collisions on this dance floor. According to Sam, dancing in the competition is like being in a world where accidents do not happen.
At last, Hally is caught up in Sam's energy and admits that the ballroom scenario sounds beautiful. Sam continues by saying that the dance is beautiful because it is what people would like the world to be and for one evening no one bumps into each other like they do in everyday life. According to Sam, people bump into people, countries bump into other countries, rich men bump into poor men and the list goes on.
This practice of bumping into each other has been going on for too long and Sam wonders when people will be able to dance like champions. Obviously, people share Sam's vision because the dance competitions are always sold out and they are standing room only. The dance competition allows people to view a microcosm of the way they want the world to be.
Hally contends that that is probably not enough to change the world but according to Sam, the competition is a beginning. Sam compares Gandhi and the Pope with people who are able to get the dance steps right, in other words bringing the people of the world together without bumping into anybody.
Hally is energized now and he considers writing a school paper on the topic of the dance competition as a metaphor for global politics. The telephone interrupts Hally, who speaks to his mother and it becomes clear that Hally's father is being released from the hospital today. Hally has a verbal outburst about the negative implications of his father's return to home which includes many medical and personal hygiene issues to which Hally must attend for his father.
Managing to rally momentarily, Hally speaks to his father in a conciliatory tone in an attempt to convince his father of a welcome return. Hally's dark mood cannot be lifted by Sam and Willie and all the visionary talk from a short while ago is now lost. Hally orders the two men to finish their work as he prepares to pack up his belongings and go home.
Unable to resist one last comment, Hally tells Sam that the dream of a better world is flawed because most people are bad dancers and Sam has also neglected to consider cripples in his metaphor. According to Hally, the reality of life is that nobody knows the dance steps, the music is nonexistent and the cripples bump into everyone else.
Sam chastises Hally for speaking derogatorily about his own father and demands that Hally retract his words and apologize but Hally refuses. In response, Sam refuses to listen to any more of Hally's negativity and Hally yells at Sam to mind his own business and to stay focused on the work he was hired to do.
In retaliation for Sam's comments, Hally tells Sam to call him Master Harold instead of Hally just like Willie does. Sam declares that if Hally forces the issue, he will never call Hally by his informal name again. Hally persists in taunting Sam in an attempt to put him in his place as a black man and an employee of the tearoom.
Sam tries to explain to Hally the implications of what the boy's behavior has had on their relationship. Sam has always tried to help Hally because the boy's father is a cripple and always dependent. It was always important to Sam to show Hally how to grow up to be a real man and now Hally has insulted Sam's spirit which is a tremendous wound.
Sam reminds Hally of the night when Hally's mother was not at home when someone from the bar called because Hally's father was drunk and needed help to get home. Hally had come to Sam in the night and Sam carried the crippled man on his back while Hally walked beside him on the way home from the bar that night. Sam can still feel Hally's pain from that night all those years ago and eventually so does Hally and the boy admits that he really does love his father.
Sam is able to identify the complex emotional issues surrounding Hally's feelings for his father and tells the boy that he must not be ashamed of his father and Hally must not feel guilty or responsible for the way things are in his home life. Sam reminds Hally of the kite he had built and tells the boy that the reason for it was so that Hally could look up and be proud of something and proud of himself.
Hally is indignant at Sam's speech but Sam tries to reach the boy one more time and offers to build another kite because it seems as if they both need it. Hally leaves and Willie tries to convince Sam that tomorrow will be a better day and the two men play a song on the jukebox and sway to the music of Sarah Vaughn.
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