Study Guide

Master Harold... and the boys Art and Culture

By Athol Fugard

Art and Culture

What is art, anyway? It's a big question, but it comes up in pretty interesting ways in "Master Harold" …and the boys. The play has characters arguing over what qualifies as real art and what's just entertainment.

Generally, the white kid thinks that the black folks' dancing is not true art, but he lets himself be convinced. Culture, too, gets divided up along racial lines, with a native dance event challenging the idea of white, colonial ceremonies as the only true cultural traditions.

Questions About Art and Culture

  1. Whose side are you on in the debate about ballroom dancing as art, Hally's or Sam's? Why?
  2. What's Hally's definition of art?
  3. Why does Hally think his teacher would be irritated by his writing about the competition as a cultural event?

Chew on This

Hally's idea of art isn't rooted in any real understanding; he just parrots what he's learned in school.

It's impossible for white South Africans like Hally to appreciate black culture as art.

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