Master Harold
We have all heard the saying that the rich keep getting richer while the poor
keep getting poorer. This somewhat describes South Africa in the 1950s. During
this time in Africa, the white people kept getting more powerful while the black
population kept getting weaker. South Africa’s apartheid system gave powerful
odds to the whites and created a racist society. In "Master Harold" ... and
the boys, a book set around the 1950s and during the apartheid system, the
racist attitudes from the apartheid system and Hally’s parents affected how

Hally treated Sam and Willie, who are black and work for Hally’s mother. These
attitudes over-shadowed the good relationship Sam and Hally had built through
most of Hally’s childhood. "Apartheid was a system that deliberately set out
to humiliate black people, even to the point of relegating them to separate
benches, entails the danger of habitual indifference to the everyday detail that
shape black and white relationship and finally, perverts them." (Durbach 69).

South Africa passed laws and acts making the black people’s lives degrading
and ensured the white superiority. Four laws were passed in 1950 which included
the Population Registration Act, Group Areas Act, the Amendment to the

Immorality Act, and the suppression of the Communism Act. These laws did several
things including classified people by color, governed areas for living according
to race and controlled ownership of property, prohibited sexual contact across
racial lines, and removed due process of laws for blacks. (Durbach 69).

Apartheid was used in South Africa because the whites, while a minority in the
population, wanted to be in control of the government and society. The way
anything that is smaller in size, and therefore weaker, is able to get power is
through intimidation. The whites made themselves more powerful by making the
blacks feel inferior. The blacks were told they were not good enough and
therefore had to be separated from the whites. The whites belittled and
separated themselves from the blacks so they wouldn’t feel guilty for what
they were doing to them. If you make someone become something other than human
and lower its level, you don’t think you are hurting another person. For
instance owners of pets do not feel guilty when you tie up a dog, or let a pet
sleep outside. Your pet is just an animal therefore they do not mind or expect
much different. Apartheid was more than racial prejudice legislated in South

Africa. It became an everyday belief. Racism became part of everyday living it
was part of schooling, home life, government, and even on public display such as
park benches. It taught society that a seventeen-year old boy was master over
two black men. In the book, Hally is quoted as saying to Sam, "Because that is
exactly what Master Harold wants from now on. Think of it as a little lesson in
respect, Sam, that’s long overdue." (Fugard 55) As in the book, a white boy
was respected and looked upon as being higher and better than the black men. In
any other traditional society, a child is to show respect to any adult, no
matter what their color or background. The apartheid system lowered the blacks
to a level lower than children, which was very humiliating, especially for an
adult man. The most important influence on a child is its parents. The
parents’ actions, behaviors, and beliefs are passed on to their children. So
many white children from South Africa grew up with parents having racist beliefs
and not knowing anything different. Hally’s parents both had racists beliefs
which influenced his attitude towards Sam and Willie. Hally’s mother owned a
café, which employed Sam and Willie, but she never saw them as anything other
than servants. "My mother is right. She’s always warning me about allowing
you to get too familiar." (Fugard 53) She took for granted their loyalty and
didn’t appreciate all they did for her business and her son. "All that
concern you in here, Sam, is to try and do what you get paid for -- keep the
place clean and serve the customers. In plain words, just get on with your job.
. . You’re only a servant here, and don’t forget it." (Fugard 53)

Hally’s father was worse in his racist attitude. His father always wanted

Hally and his mother to take more control over the "boys". He wants Hally
and his mother to restrict Sam and Willie’s freedom so they will understand
who is in control and to learn to respect them more. Hally tells Sam, "I can
tell you