"Life is just a plain bloody mess, that's all. This quote by one of the main characters, Hally, in Athol Fugard's "Master Harold" and the boys, describes the central theme of the play. The theme of the play is about boy chooses the accepted values of society over a strong friendship. Ironically, Hally is the "fool" in the play because he chooses to conform to the societal views towards racism rather than taking the moral high ground. He decides to treat his black servants, Sam Semela and Willie Malopo, with disrespect rather than the equality that a normal friendship requires. Although Sam is a better father figure and friend to Hally than his biological father, Hally resembles his father's harsh, racist personality towards the end of the play. Sam is portrayed as a better friend to Hally because he is there for him at all times such as the kite and Boarding House memories. Hally turns into his father at the end by using his white superiority as an excuse to vent his anger at Sam. Although Sam and Hally have an extremely strong friendship, Hally chooses to emulate as his own father out of anger because it is the easier thing to do according to the Apartheid system.
Sam's presence in Hally's life resembles an ideal father figure and role model, which was absent in the young boy's life. Sam and Hally's great friendship is initially apparent when they reminisce about the Boarding House. Hally says, "I think I spent more time in there with you chaps than anyone else in that dump. And do you blame me? Nothing but bloody misery wherever you went" (25). From a young age, Hally preferred to spend his time with Sam and Willie because they brought an excitement to was what a rather miserable time in Hally's life. In addition, he describes his Mom "fighting" (25). His Dad fails to even make the memory. Inevitably, Hally would find his way to Sam's room every day and as a result, he knows how to get there with his eyes closed.