Study Guide

Master Harold... and the boys Lines 1064-1446

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Lines 1064-1446

  • Sam and Willie dance as they stack chairs, practicing for the competition. Willie gets downhearted because he's lost his partner, and Sam gives him options, like dropping out or trying to find a new partner.
  • The best option, to ask for Hilda's forgiveness for hitting her, doesn't appeal to Willie. Sam laughs at him, saying he'll dance with his pillow.
  • Willie chases Sam around Hally's table, which makes Hally explode with rage. He hits Willie hard with his ruler, as though he were a kid getting a spanking, and tells them to get back to work.
  • Hally tells the men that he's been too lenient with them, taking advantage of the freedom he gives them and dancing instead of cleaning up.
  • Sam ignores the putdown, and tries convince Hally that dancing's a harmless pleasure that makes people happy. Hally refuses to take ballroom dancing seriously and says he's wasted his time trying to educate Sam all these years if all he's interested in is stupid dancing.
  • They argue over whether dancing's an art form until Hally comes up with an idea: to write his essay on the annual dance contest. He thinks his teacher won't like him writing about a black dance competition as a cultural event. He doesn't like "natives."
  • Sam and Willie describe the event in detail—the music, the costumes, the moment when the winners are announced—recreating it as Hally takes notes. Hally really gets into it.
  • Hally wonders whether there are points lost for penalties, like bumping into another couple on the dance floor. Sam and Willie think this is hilarious: no one ever collides when they're dancing. The finalists are all expert dancers.
  • They talk about dancing as a beautiful metaphor for an ideal world where no one bumps into each other. Very different from their real world, with all its violent collisions.
  • Hally seems to cheer up and gets excited about his work. He loves Sam's idea of dance as a metaphor for a harmonious world. It gives him hope for mankind.
  • He forgets about his father, for now.

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