A Pivotal Moment
In the lives of all, one will inevitably have a figure or figures in their lives to whom he or she looks up to. This may be a parent, educator, older sibling, or even peer. While it is always beneficial to have role models, at one point or another, an individual must grow up and take the spot that he or she was filling for oneself. These role models cannot and will not continually provide wisdom, guidance, and assistance for one’s entire life. Therefore, there must be a pivotal moment when the impressed is no longer under the molding of the impressor. He or she must grow up. This type of impressed and impressor relationship may be seen in the play”Master Harold… and the Boys,” authored by Athol Fugard, between Hally and Sam. Towards the closing of the piece, an argument occurs in which Hally recognizes that he cannot always look up to Sam. He experiences an epiphany wherein he must finally grow up and out of his boyish ways. This conflict, in a nutshell, is Hally’s pivotal moment.
Throughout the play, flashbacks through storytelling occur wherein Hally and Sam reflect on memories with another; ones that often have stemmed from Hally’s family life. It is understood that not only is Hally’s father is sick, but also a habitual alcoholic. Throughout the course of his upbringing, he was forced to care for his father and essentially be the man of the house. The only exception to this was when Hally was with Sam, a black South African worker. With Sam, Hally was able to maintain his childhood. Sam preserved the boy’s childhood through chess, kites, and hiding (from his mother). Therefore, upon hearing that Hally’s father would be returning home, his childhood is ripped away once again. This time, at seventeen, for good. Being that he is an intelligent boy, he comprehends the implications of his father returning. He may no longer be a boy; he can no longer associate with Sam, Willie, or other black South Africans; he must not let his father see how little respect he demands from this uneducated and lesser men. He must become a man to not only please his father but also impress him. Hally attempts to accomplish these things through the argument with Sam. He rationalizes that if he can mangle and distort the relationship, ignoring it will be much simpler for him.
In Hally’s eyes, this transformation will undeniably redeem him. It will undeniably make his father love him. If spitting in the face of his only friend and father figure will gain the respect of his father, he will do it. In each and all situations, one will choose the respect and admiration of an authority figure. It will never matter the relationship with the former man. An individual will always step into a role that places him or her in a better light with one that may have power over them. Sam has no hold over Hally; both of these men understand this simple fact. Therefore, the breaking of the relationship is justified in Hally’s mind. He knows that through this argument, he will not lose any respect or power from those who can take it away. Sam does not have any social or economic standing with those who matter in this skewed, racist society. If severing ties with Sam will, in the end, benefit Hally’s relationship with those in power, he does not recognize the fault in doing so.
As stated above, while Hally’s relationship with his father is mangled, he continues to desire to impress him. His father has more power and respect than anyone else in this boy’s eyes. This fact allows him to easily grant power and authority to his son. As Hally argues with Sam, he comprehends the importance of this power, this authority. He shifts drastically in order to fill a role set before him by his father. As assumed this role is one with no place for Sam. Therefore, Sam and Hally must not have a relationship. They both see Hally growing until he no longer fits in the mold Same impressed on him. He cannot and will not fit into the old shoes of his boyhood. There is no longer any time to be playing with kites as Sam so deeply yearns for. Instead, Harold, not Hally, must pull on new shoes to fill the role of a white man in South Africa wielding power and authority as his father desires him to.
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