"Master Harold" … and the Boys

Hally Character Analysis

Hally, or Harold, is the 17-year-old son of a tearoom and convenience store owner. Hally's father is also a crippled, alcoholic, ad racist World War II veteran. As the play unfolds, we learn that, when he was a younger boy, Hally's troubled family life often drove him to spend time with his mother’s black workers, and . Hally is in secondary school, where, he precociously asserts, it is unnecessary to perform well on tests or even to learn all the material. His relationship to white South Africa's built-in structures of racism is murky—he seems at once to be blind to its existence, to unconsciously subvert or go against its demands, and to harbor all its darker aspects within himself.

Hally Quotes in "Master Harold" … and the Boys

The "Master Harold" … and the Boys quotes below are all either spoken by Hally or refer to Hally. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Racism Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage International edition of "Master Harold" … and the Boys published in 2009.
"Master Harold" … and the Boys Quotes

Tried to be clever, as usual. Said I was no Leonardo da Vinci and that bad art had to be punished. So, six of the best, and his are bloody good.

Related Characters: Hally (speaker)
Related Symbols: Ballroom Dance
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

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I’ve heard enough, Sam! Jesus! It’s a bloody awful world when you come to think of it. People can be real bastards.

Related Characters: Hally (speaker), Sam
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

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I know, I know! I oscillate between hope and despair for this world as well, Sam. But things will change, you wait and see. One day somebody is going to get up and give history a kick up the backside and get it going again.

Related Characters: Hally (speaker), Sam
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

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Don’t get sentimental, Sam. You’ve never been a slave, you know. And anyway we freed your ancestors here in South Africa long before the Americans. But if you want to thank somebody on their behalf, do it to Mr. William Wilberforce. Come on. Try again. I want a real genius.

Related Characters: Hally (speaker), Sam
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:

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…I got another rowing for hanging around the “servants’ quarters.” I think I spent more time in there with you chaps than anywhere else in that dump. And do you blame me? Nothing but bloody misery everywhere you went.

Related Characters: Hally (speaker), Sam
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:

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The sheer audacity of it took my breath away. I mean, seriously, what the hell does a black man know about flying a kite?...If you think I was excited and happy, you got another guess coming… When we left the boarding house to go up onto the hill, I was praying quietly that there wouldn’t be any other kids around to laugh at us.

Related Characters: Hally (speaker), Sam
Related Symbols: The Kite
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:

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HALLY: You explained how to get it down, we tied it to the bench so that I could sit and watch it and you went away. I wanted you to stay, you know. I was a little scared of having to look after it by myself.
SAM: (Quietly) I had work to do, Hally

Related Characters: Hally (speaker), Sam (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Kite
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

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Would have been just as strange I suppose, if it had been me and my Dad… a cripple man and a little boy! Nope! There’s no chance of me flying a kite without it being strange.

Related Characters: Hally (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Kite
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:

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Don’t try to be clever, Sam. It doesn’t suit you. Anybody who thinks there’s nothing wrong with this world need to have his head examined... If there is a God who created this world, he should scrap it and try again.

Related Characters: Hally (speaker), Sam
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:

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I’ve been far too lenient with the two of you. But what really makes me bitter is that I allow you chaps a little freedom in here when business is bad and, what do you do with it? The foxtrot! Specially you, Sam. There’s more to life than trotting around a dance floor and I thought at least you knew it.

Related Characters: Hally (speaker), Sam, Willie
Related Symbols: Ballroom Dance
Page Number: 39
Explanation and Analysis:

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There’s no collisions out there, Hally. Nobody trips or stumbles or bumps into anybody else. That’s what that moment is all about. To be one of those finalists on the dance floor is like… like being in a dream about a world in which accidents don’t happen.

Related Characters: Sam (speaker), Hally
Related Symbols: Ballroom Dance
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

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You’re right. We musn’t despair. Maybe there’s some hope for mankind after all. Keep it up, Willie.

Related Characters: Hally (speaker), Willie
Related Symbols: Ballroom Dance
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:

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HALLY: He’s a white man and that’s good enough for you.
SAM: I’ll try to forget you said that.

Related Characters: Hally (speaker), Sam (speaker)
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

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HALLY: To begin with, why don’t you start calling me Master Harold, like Willie.
SAM: Do you mean that?
HALLY: Why the hell do you think I said it?
SAM: If you make me say it once, I’ll never call you by anything else again

Related Characters: Hally (speaker), Sam (speaker), Willie
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:

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If you ever do write it as a short story, there was a twist in our ending. I couldn’t sit down there and stay with you. It was a “Whites Only” bench. You were too young, too excited to notice then. But not anymore. If you’re not careful… Master Harold… you’re going to be sitting up there by yourself for a long time to come, and there won’t be a kite in the sky.

Related Characters: Sam (speaker), Hally
Related Symbols: The Kite
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:

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HALLY: I don’t know. I don’t know anything anymore.
SAM: You sure of that, Hally? Because it would be pretty hopeless if that was true. It would mean nothing has been learnt in here this afternoon, and there was a hell of a lot of teaching going on…

Related Characters: Hally (speaker), Sam (speaker)
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:

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Hally Character Timeline in "Master Harold" … and the Boys

The timeline below shows where the character Hally appears in "Master Harold" … and the Boys. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
"Master Harold" … and the Boys
Ignorance vs. Learning, Education, and Wisdom Theme Icon
Dance and Dream Theme Icon
...with his practice, Sam gives a demonstration of the quickstep. He is a great dancer. Hally, the owner’s son enters at the door to see the end of Sam’s performance. Willie... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Abuse, Oppression, and Inequality Theme Icon
Cripples and Broken Things Theme Icon
Hally is unhappy at the news, and because Sam only overheard his mother talking on the... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Ignorance vs. Learning, Education, and Wisdom Theme Icon
Cripples and Broken Things Theme Icon
Dance and Dream Theme Icon
Hally and Willie banter about dance and Willie accidentally hits Hally with his washrag. Hally tells... (full context)
Abuse, Oppression, and Inequality Theme Icon
Ignorance vs. Learning, Education, and Wisdom Theme Icon
Cripples and Broken Things Theme Icon
Dance and Dream Theme Icon
Hally starts to do his school work at the table and Sam grabs a mathematics book... (full context)
Ignorance vs. Learning, Education, and Wisdom Theme Icon
Cripples and Broken Things Theme Icon
Dance and Dream Theme Icon
Hally says that progress is possible and society might one day be changed for the better... (full context)
Abuse, Oppression, and Inequality Theme Icon
Ignorance vs. Learning, Education, and Wisdom Theme Icon
Dance and Dream Theme Icon
Now Sam takes the history textbook from Hally’s school case. He turns at random to some lines about the French General and later... (full context)
Ignorance vs. Learning, Education, and Wisdom Theme Icon
Dance and Dream Theme Icon
Sam asks Hally whom he would choose as a man of magnitude, and Hally says Charles Darwin. Sam... (full context)
Ignorance vs. Learning, Education, and Wisdom Theme Icon
Cripples and Broken Things Theme Icon
Dance and Dream Theme Icon
Sam suggests William Shakespeare, but Hally says Sam’s only read the play Julius Caesar and that the language in Shakespeare should... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Ignorance vs. Learning, Education, and Wisdom Theme Icon
Dance and Dream Theme Icon
Sam recalls his first lesson, a lesson in geography he was able to get from Hally when Hally had come to his and Willie’s servants’ quarters at the back of the... (full context)
Ignorance vs. Learning, Education, and Wisdom Theme Icon
Dance and Dream Theme Icon
Hally spent so much time with Sam and Willie there that he recalls having walked in... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Abuse, Oppression, and Inequality Theme Icon
Ignorance vs. Learning, Education, and Wisdom Theme Icon
Cripples and Broken Things Theme Icon
Dance and Dream Theme Icon
Hally tells Sam to guess his favorite memory, and goes on to recall coming into Sam’s... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Abuse, Oppression, and Inequality Theme Icon
Ignorance vs. Learning, Education, and Wisdom Theme Icon
Dance and Dream Theme Icon
Next, Hally tells how Sam told him to run and remembers how his embarrassment and anxiety melted... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Abuse, Oppression, and Inequality Theme Icon
Ignorance vs. Learning, Education, and Wisdom Theme Icon
Cripples and Broken Things Theme Icon
Dance and Dream Theme Icon
Hally says that a black man and white boy flying a kite is strange. Sam asks... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Cripples and Broken Things Theme Icon
Hally’s mother phones from the hospital. Sam answers and gives the phone to Hally. When he... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Abuse, Oppression, and Inequality Theme Icon
Ignorance vs. Learning, Education, and Wisdom Theme Icon
Cripples and Broken Things Theme Icon
Hally tells Sam and Willie they heard right, his father is coming home. His mother won’t... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Ignorance vs. Learning, Education, and Wisdom Theme Icon
Sam asks Hally about his homework. The assignment is to “Write five hundred words describing an annual even... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Abuse, Oppression, and Inequality Theme Icon
Ignorance vs. Learning, Education, and Wisdom Theme Icon
Cripples and Broken Things Theme Icon
Dance and Dream Theme Icon
...song about Willie dancing with his pillow, and, losing his temper, Willie charges at Sam. Hally yells at the two men to stop fooling around and hits Willie in the backside... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Abuse, Oppression, and Inequality Theme Icon
Ignorance vs. Learning, Education, and Wisdom Theme Icon
Dance and Dream Theme Icon
Sam says dancing is a harmless pleasure, and Hally says it’s a simple-minded pleasure that doesn’t challenge the intellect. Sam says it does other... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Abuse, Oppression, and Inequality Theme Icon
Ignorance vs. Learning, Education, and Wisdom Theme Icon
Dance and Dream Theme Icon
Hally says that dance isn’t art and that art is “the giving of meaning to matter”... (full context)
Ignorance vs. Learning, Education, and Wisdom Theme Icon
Dance and Dream Theme Icon
...and his Ochestral Jazzonians, and the climax of the evening when the winners are announced. Hally begins to ask more questions about the event, where it's held, how often, and concludes... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Abuse, Oppression, and Inequality Theme Icon
Ignorance vs. Learning, Education, and Wisdom Theme Icon
Dance and Dream Theme Icon
Hally says his English teacher will argue with him because he “doesn’t like natives,” but, Hally... (full context)
Ignorance vs. Learning, Education, and Wisdom Theme Icon
Cripples and Broken Things Theme Icon
Dance and Dream Theme Icon
...and, if he plays the jukebox, he won’t be able to take the bus, and Hally thinks about taking some money from the till (cash register) but decides against it. They’ll... (full context)
Abuse, Oppression, and Inequality Theme Icon
Ignorance vs. Learning, Education, and Wisdom Theme Icon
Dance and Dream Theme Icon
Hally asks if there are any penalties for stumbling or doing something wrong. Sam and Willie... (full context)
Ignorance vs. Learning, Education, and Wisdom Theme Icon
Dance and Dream Theme Icon
...got past just dreaming about it and are actually doing something right, like Mahatma Gandhi. Hally says when it comes down to it the United Nations is like a dancing school... (full context)
Abuse, Oppression, and Inequality Theme Icon
Cripples and Broken Things Theme Icon
Hally’s mom phones again, this time from a private telephone—presumably, her home phone. She has brought... (full context)
Ignorance vs. Learning, Education, and Wisdom Theme Icon
Cripples and Broken Things Theme Icon
After protesting, Hally speaks to his father and we can see that Hally is genuinely conflicted. He is... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Abuse, Oppression, and Inequality Theme Icon
Ignorance vs. Learning, Education, and Wisdom Theme Icon
Cripples and Broken Things Theme Icon
Dance and Dream Theme Icon
Hally is disconsolate and silent after hanging up the phone. Sam tries to comfort him, and... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Abuse, Oppression, and Inequality Theme Icon
Ignorance vs. Learning, Education, and Wisdom Theme Icon
Sam tells Hally to be careful of the things he’s saying, warning him not to speak ill of... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Abuse, Oppression, and Inequality Theme Icon
Ignorance vs. Learning, Education, and Wisdom Theme Icon
Hally tells Sam that his father’s being a white man should be enough for him, and... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Abuse, Oppression, and Inequality Theme Icon
Ignorance vs. Learning, Education, and Wisdom Theme Icon
Cripples and Broken Things Theme Icon
Hally says his father will be glad to hear about the lesson he has given Sam... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Abuse, Oppression, and Inequality Theme Icon
Hally spits in Sam’s face and Sam starts calling him Master Harold. Sam warns Master Harold... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Abuse, Oppression, and Inequality Theme Icon
Ignorance vs. Learning, Education, and Wisdom Theme Icon
Cripples and Broken Things Theme Icon
Sam tells Hally that Hally doesn’t know what he’s done. Hally has made him, Sam says, feel dirtier... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Abuse, Oppression, and Inequality Theme Icon
Ignorance vs. Learning, Education, and Wisdom Theme Icon
Cripples and Broken Things Theme Icon
Dance and Dream Theme Icon
After the incident, Sam says, Hally was dejected for days. Sam made the kite to try and cheer Hally up, and... (full context)
Ignorance vs. Learning, Education, and Wisdom Theme Icon
Dance and Dream Theme Icon
Sam asks Hally to wait. He says he has no business telling Hally how to be a man... (full context)