Master Harold... and the Boys | Study Guide

Athol Fugard

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Course Hero. "Master Harold... and the Boys Study Guide." Course Hero. 29 Mar. 2019. Web. 15 Aug. 2020. <>.

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Course Hero. (2019, March 29). Master Harold... and the Boys Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved August 15, 2020, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2019)



Course Hero. "Master Harold... and the Boys Study Guide." March 29, 2019. Accessed August 15, 2020.


Course Hero, "Master Harold... and the Boys Study Guide," March 29, 2019, accessed August 15, 2020,

Master Harold... and the Boys | Plot Summary

See Plot Diagram


The play takes place during one afternoon in 1950, in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The setting, which never changes, is the St. George's Park Tea Room, owned by the mother of teenaged schoolboy Hally. Sam Semela and Willie Malopo, two middle-aged black men, work in the tearoom. Willie practices for an upcoming ballroom dance contest; Sam coaches him. Willie is upset because his dance partner, Hilda, abandoned him after he violently beat her.

Sections 1–2

Hally comes to the tearoom and begins his homework, which is to write an essay on the most important cultural event of the year. Sam tells Hally his mother called. She has gone to the hospital to see Hally's father, an alcoholic with one leg. Sam and Hally reminisce about a day when Sam built a kite for Hally. Sam proposes Hally could write his essay about the upcoming dance contest. Sam figuratively describes dancing in terms of people and nations coexisting peacefully. Hally gets excited about the prospect of writing about dancing in terms of a broader political concept.

Sections 3–5

A phone call from Hally's mother darkens Hally's mood. She tells him she plans to bring Hally's father home even though he will drink and steal their money. Upset, Hally lashes out at Sam, spitting on him and insisting Sam call him "Master Harold." Sam, angry and saddened, reminds Hally of the time he carried Hally's blind-drunk father home from a pub. Sam then confides he made the kite to lift Hally's spirits after the shame of the incident. He also tells Hally the kite-flying day was marred for him when Hally unwittingly sat on a whites-only bench where Sam could not join him. Chastened, Hally soon agrees to reconcile with Sam. Willy decides to apologize to Hilda, and, in celebration, he spends his last coins on the jukebox. The play concludes with Sam and Willie alone on stage, dancing.

Master Harold... and the Boys Plot Diagram

ClimaxFalling ActionRising ActionIntroductionResolution2134675


1 Sam tells Hally his mother was called to the hospital.

Rising Action

2 Hally reminisces about Sam building a kite.

3 Hally begs his mom to leave his father in the hospital.

4 Hally is upset when he learns his father is coming home.


5 Angry with Sam, Hally insists Sam call him Master Harold.

Falling Action

6 Sam reveals all he has done for Hally.


7 Sam offers to reconcile with Hally.

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