Apartheid was a system of laws by the white minority which allowed segregation and discrimination of the black and coloured from 1948 to 1994. Athol Fugard was from South Africa and he was a supporter of the Anti-Apartheid movement. The play, "'Master Harold'. and the Boys," written by Athol Fugard in 1982,which takes place in South Africa during the apartheid era,depicts how institutionalized racism or hatred can become absorbed by those who live under it and affect their relationships. The characters in the play are Hally, a white seventeen year old, Sam and Willie, african servants who are middle aged and work for Hally's mother at St. George's Park Tea Room in Port Elizabeth. In the play, Fugard challenges and criticizes the Apartheid system in three distinct ways by showing different dynamics within the relationship of the characters.
Initially, Fugard showcases how Hally treats Sam and Willie as equals but more importantly as friends, even though he is white and they are black. In the first part of the play you can see that Hally does not make Sam or Willie call him Master Harold even though they are supposed. He also calls them "chaps", a word that means friend. When he first arrives from school at the tea room he says, "How's it,chaps?" He also has educated conversations with Sam. For example they converse about what a, "man of magnitude," is and exchange different men that they think could be considered has one. Sam states, "Ha! There's the social reformer we're waiting for. He sounds like a man of magnitude," when learning about Napoleon Bonaparte's reforms. We also see that Sam and Hally teach each other in a way. We know that Hally in a way teaches Sam through what he learns at school as the play progresses we see Sam teaching Hally about ballroom dancing and even though at first Hally is not accepting of it as an art he expresses his fascination with it.