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Racial Inequality in Master Harold

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Racial Inequality in Master Harold

In the play “Master Harold”… and the boys and the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a common theme of racial inequality is conveyed through the main characters of both narrations. Both the novel and the play’s central characters are a young white boy and an older Negro worker. The authors of these two works send out significant messages about how misleading racial discrimination is. Through the representation of Jim and Sam in the young boys life, as well as the changing attitudes the boys have towards racial inequality and how society affects those changes, a message about the injustice and ignorance of racial discrimination is revealed, as well as a lesson of how it is not always society’s values that are correct, that the good will of mankind should be important over all others.

In “Master Harold”… and the boys, young Hally who is growing up in the time of South African apartheid, practises the dominance that society held over the native black population living in South Africa. Although Hally retains the racist values society has imposed on him, it is also evident that Hally has a close relationship with Willy and Sam. Hally has grown up in their company, and Willy and Sam have played an important role in his young life thus far. As a young boy, while Hally was ignorant of the pressures of society, Hally used to escape to Willy and Sam’s room in the boarding house to evade the unpleasantness he felt while at the boarding house. Hally strongly remembers this time, and can quote even the smallest details of the time they spent together and the living space in which they spent their time. In the following passage, it is evident that the values of society pertaining to racism are being put forth onto Hally since he is a child. However is it apparent that Hally possesses a lack of regard for these restrictions.

“Which meant I got another rowing for hanging around the “servants quarters.” I think I spent more time in there with you chap than anywhere else in that dump. And do you blame me?” (p.25).

In this passage Hally reveals how as a young child he was innocent of discrimination, although he was still exposed to it in his everyday life. When Hally quotes, “And do you blame me?” it is revealed that Hally values the company of the Negro men, opposed to any sort of entertainment that is provided in the boarding house. The quote also implies common sense in his actions, that it makes perfect sense for the young boy to be growing up in the company and influence of two Negro workers, of obvious less affluence then himself. The irony of this common sense approach Hally implies to his involvement with Willy and Sam illustrates how Hally’s innocence and naivety from society free him from the racist bounds of his culture, allowing Hally to develop close relationships with the men and learn from them. However this innocence does not last. As Hally grows older he becomes more entwined with boundaries of society and society’s values. He is learning in an education system that reflects the prevalence of whites over black. During the play Hally’s confusion over his childhood friends and the role of propriety affect his behaviour. He becomes more defiant and develops a disregard Sam’s feelings, which is exemplified through Hally’s insults toward Sam and by spitting in his face.

In the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn on the other hand, Huck enters the novel with seemingly strong felt position on the issue of discrimination. However when Huck runs away, and has discovered Jim has escaped, Huck does not turn around and turn him in. It is clear that if Huck was to do this he would be revealing himself and would have to return to the life he so desperately wanted to escape from. So instead Huck uses Jim as an allie, both characters have the common goal of escaping to what they deem a better life. Throughout the novel, in the events encountered and stories made up, there is a constant role play that Huck and Jim follow. Jim is always hiding or a servant of Huck. Huck is the one who takes the responsibility and danger of going into the towns and being exposed to others. There is a role reversal as the boy in the novel takes on responsibility that would be usually put upon the man in the situation, while Jim who is the man has to hide in the distance and can only offer insight to Huck. Unlike “Master Harold”… and the boys, Huck does not grow out of the innocence of discrimination, but rather grows into it. By being removed from the restraints of society Huck begins to realize how valuable Jim is to him. Even though Huck is not very racist in the beginning of the novel, he still disregards Jim’s feelings and believes himself to be better then Jim at some points. Huck first realizes his feelings for Jim, sees him as a human and as someone

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