And The Boys is the story of a relationship, set in times and in under circumstances that make that relationship all but impossible. Every relationship is also a journey, not only from the relationship's beginnings through its full flower, but from the relative self-centeredness and immaturity of the relationship's participants to the full maturation of each participant as they grow into a kind of unity with the other. In many cases, this process is completely unconscious and remains that way; in others, it produces what James Joyce called an "epiphany- -- a sudden, life-altering realization of the way things really are. In "Master Harold- . . . And The Boys, it is said to have three journeys, and, arguably, three epiphanies. In contrast to the formulaic type of journey in which two people in opposite social strata come to discover that they are really just alike under the skin, "Master Harold- begins with that premise and then abruptly unravels it at the play's end. .
Sam, along with his friend Willie, has worked for Hally's family ever since Hally was a little boy. Hally's mother has apparently always been the "working- member of the family, and Hally's father is an alcoholic who is now crippled as well. Because of this, Sam has taken pity on the boy -- whom he sincerely loves -- and has tried to be a father figure to him.
There is just one problem. This is South Africa in 1950, and Sam is black. Hally, of course, is white. If there is any such a thing as a "normal- father/son relationship in any human context, it would be impossible here. Sam's journey, however, provides a paternal influence where there is none, and clearly it succeeds much better when Hally is a little boy than it does when Hally grows up and realizes that in his cultural milieu, a middle-class white boy cannot have a black man for a father.
Sam has a great and generous spirit, however, and his optimism makes him confident that he can take a giant swipe at racism through his intimate relationship with this small boy.