40 pages 1 hour read

Athol Fugard

Master Harold and the Boys

Fiction | Play | YA | Published in 1982

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Character Analysis


Sam is a Black man in his mid-forties who works as a waiter at the St. George’s Park Tea Room. He is intelligent, and of all the characters in the play, he has the best understanding of how Shame and Systems of Power work in their lives. He demonstrates this understanding when he tells Willie that Hilda does not want to dance with him anymore, because Willie beats her when she gets the steps wrong. He understands how misogyny and gendered violence impact Hilda and is eventually, by the end of the play, able to show Willie that a better way is possible. Sam is also very aware of the systems of power that oppress him and Willie: apartheid and racial inequality. He finds these systems extremely frustrating, but he cannot openly voice his frustrations to Hally, out of fear that Hally might retaliate and threaten his job. When Hally points out, abstractly, that the world is unfair, Sam replies that it is simply the way things are. This assertion has a ring of irony to it when considering the Racial Dynamics in South Africa.