Study Guide

Master Harold... and the boys What's Up With the Title?

By Athol Fugard

What's Up With the Title?

"Master Harold"…and the boys has got to be one of the most meaningfully punctuated titles we've ever seen. And we've seen lots of titles (check 'em out). So let's break it down.

First up, we've got the title and name "Master Harold" in a stunning set of quotation marks. This leads us to believe that the author is laying on the irony about the idea of Hally being anybody's Master. It also reminds us that he's a boy who's just trying on his adult identity by oppressing those around him.

Next in line, ellipses. What're those dots there for? It's a dramatic pause between the hoity-toity name "Master Harold" and the informal title of "the boys." And who are those boys separated from Master Harold by the pregnant, three-dot pause? Why, it's Willie and Sam. And they aren't boys at all…they're grown men.

The title is so ironic that if it had eyes they would be rolling. If it could breathe it would be sighing dramatically. If it had glasses they would be hipster nerd glasses. You get the picture, right?

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