Study Guide

Master Harold... and the boys Lines 1447-1921

By Athol Fugard

Lines 1447-1921

  • Back to reality. The phone rings again; Sam answers it and gives it to Hally. It's his mom.
  • Hally talks to her, and yells at his mom for whatever news she's giving him. He tells her it's going to be the end of all the peace and quiet they've had at home while his dad's been in the hospital.
  • Hally's freaked out about the idea of having to empty his father's chamberpots again. He confesses to his mother that he couldn't even buy the new science book he needed because his father borrowed the money for booze.
  • He threatens to leave home if his parents start fighting again; he's tired of being the peacemaker.
  • He begs her not to put his dad on the line.
  • She does, and he talks fake-sweetly to his dad, saying that he's waiting for him at home. His mom finally comes back on the line and he promises her that he didn't say anything nasty to his dad.
  • Sam says that the phone call "sounded like a bad bump;" suddenly Hally gets mad at him and accuses him of meddling in his personal business. He tells him to shut up and get back to work.
  • He gives up on his essay, and smashes a bottle of brandy that he was supposed to bring home for his alcoholic dad. He starts making fun of his father for his disability, laughing at how he'd look if he tried to dance at the competition.
  • Sam and Willie warn him to watch what he says about his dad. Sam says it's a sin for a son to ridicule his father, but Hally won't stop.
  • Finally, Sam gets mad and says he doesn't want to hear the bad things Hally has to say about his dad, which infuriates Hally. Things start to get really ugly.
  • Hally decides that his parents are right—he's let Sam, who's just a servant, get too familiar, and that Sam should remember that his dad is his boss because he's a white man, even if it's his mother who pays his salary. Ouch.
  • Sam says they're on dangerous ground, and someone's gonna get hurt.
  • The final straw? Hally says that from now on he wants Sam to start calling him "Master Harold." Sam swears that if he makes him do it once, he'll never go back to calling him Hally.
  • Hally tells a racist joke about a black man's arse, a joke he and his dad often tell together.
  • Sam asks Hally why he's trying so hard to be ugly. And anyway, how would he know what a black arse looks like?
  • Sam drops his pants and moons him, taunting him and telling him to kick it if he wants to so badly.
  • After that display, Hally calls Sam over and spits in his face.
  • Stunned silence.
  • Willie groans, and Sam wipes his face. He rushes at Hally. Willie stops him from hitting him, but they both stare at the boy threateningly.
  • Sam says that Hally's just made him feel dirtier than he's ever felt before. He doesn't know how he'll ever wash off Hally and his father's filth.
  • Hally doesn't respond. He keeps his head down.
  • Sam gives "Master Harold" a lecture, reminding him of the time they had to go pick up Hally's dad, drunk at a bar, and how ashamed Hally had been, walking with his father's crutches behind a black man carrying his father on his back.
  • Hally, in serious pain, tells Sam that he loves his father.
  • Sam says he knows that, and it's hard to love someone and be ashamed of him, too.
  • Sam says that he thinks Hally will now be ashamed of himself. It was Sam's goal to never have to see that happen.
  • Sam remembers that Hally had walked around for a week with his head down after the incident at the bar, as if he was the one who had done something bad.
  • That's why he made the kite for Hally, to cheer him up and get him to look up, to give him something to be proud of.
  • And he couldn't stay with him at the bench because the bench was marked "Whites Only."
  • He tells Hally that if he isn't careful he'll always be alone at the bench, but there won't be any kite to cheer him up.
  • Everyone gets ready to close up the tea room, and Sam tries one more teaching moment.
  • He says that he can't very well teach Hally what it means to be a man if he hasn't done a good job of acting like one himself that afternoon.
  • He suggests that maybe they can start over, maybe fly another kite.
  • Hally says that it's raining too hard; you can't fly a kite in the rain.
  • Sam asks if they can hope for better weather tomorrow.
  • Hally answers that he doesn't know what to do about anything anymore.
  • Sam tells him that now that Hally knows what the bench means, he can walk away from the bench anytime if he wants to.
  • Hally leaves the Tea Room.
  • Willie tries to comfort Sam. He promises to talk to Hilda and not hit her anymore. He says they'll practice nonstop and they're sure to win the first prize for new dancers at the upcoming competition.
  • He uses his bus money to play a song on the jukebox called "Little Man." He says to Sam, "Let's dream."
  • They dance.

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