Last Updated 15 Apr 2020

Master Harold and the Boys: Overview

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In the play Master Harold and the boys, the telephone is a very significant symbol. It acts as a scene changer, as well as a mood changer the most for one particular character, Hally. In this summary, I will briefly describe a few instances throughout the play where the telephone is described, and the effects it has on the characters. In the beginning, Hally, a young white man arrives at his mother and father’s restaurant where he is greeted by two black “servants. ” One of the “servants”, Sam informs Hally that his mom had phoned for him about a half an hour ago.

Hally’s mood immediately changed from happy/content to nervousness/worry. Hally seemed to know that when his mother called, it was for good reason. Hally began pestering Sam with questions about the phone call. He wanted to know where his mother called from, what she called for and how long ago it was that she called. Sam explained that his mother had told him that she was bringing his father home from the hospital. Hally then became even more worried and tried to accuse Sam of lying. There was no way Hally’s mother was bringing his father home from the hospital, because he was still too sick.

He then tried to call his mother at home, but there was no answer. This made Hally contemplate if the news could be true. As the two servants went back to work, Hally stood alone in confusion and worry. All he could seem to do is think about what this news means, and how it will affect him. Ring…ring…ring. Sam answers the phone while Hally stops his train of thought. He is listening and holding on to every word Sam says. This telephone call acts as a scene changer and also a mood changer for Hally and the servants; they all stop what they are doing to find out what is happening.

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Hally relates the phone ringing to something bad happening. Sam tells Hally that it is his mother on the phone for him. In worry Hally asks if the call is local or private, almost as if he is preparing his speech to his mother. Once Hally musters up the courage to speak on the phone, Hally finds out that the news is true; Hally’s father is asking to come home. Shocked, he cannot believe what he is hearing. He becomes angry with his mother, demanding that she make him stay at the hospital. But you know that Hally doesn’t really seem to care how his dad is feeling, he just doesn’t ant him back home. Hally’s mom agreed to try to keep his father at the hospital, but she wasn’t making any promises, Hally’s father was acting too persistent with his decision. Hally’s mother told him that she would call him back. After he hung up the phone, he was in complete shock. All he could do was stare at the telephone as Sam and Willie began bombarding him with questions. Hally had told them that Sam was right and his father wanted to come home. Hally’s mood changed to anger after that phone call.

He kept going back and forth across the restaurant saying what kind of a mess this was going to make for him. He even got so angry about this news, that he began ordering same and Willie around, telling them to quit fooling around and to get back to work. As the servants obeyed his command, all Hally could do is pace back and forth through the restaurant and wait for that next phone call. Then, finally…ring…ring…ring. Hally took a lot longer to answer the phone this time. Sam even had to remind him not to keep his mother waiting.

Hally’s mom was calling from home this time. She told her son that his father was home. Infuriated, Hally scolded his mother, asking her why she didn’t stop him and why she didn’t make him stay. He went on to tell his mom that he had an exam coming up, and how could he focus on that when his father is home causing trouble. Hally’s mom tells him that his father wanted to speak with him. Hally’s tone immediately changed when he spoke with his father. He sounded happy to speak with him, asking him how he was feeling. He also told his father that he was happy that he was home.

After he hung up the phone he went right back to being angry. He acted like he was so much more superior to the black servants, walking around telling them what to do. In conclusion, the telephone was a very important symbol in the play Master Harold and the boys. Every time the phone rang, it changed all of the characters mood. Although the telephone acted like more of symbol to Hally, it did affect all the characters. Each time the telephone rang, Halley’s mood grew more nervous and more angry. He related the telephone ringing to anger, worry and frustration

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Master Harold and the Boys: Overview. (2017, Mar 09). Retrieved from

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