In Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and Athol Fugard’s “Master Harold”… and the boys, the master-slave relationship is a cornerstone on which the plays’ central themes are built. In Godot, Pozzo, the master, and Lucky, the slave, are framed as the master and his slave in the twilight of their time together. However, in Master Harold, Hally, the master, and Sam, the servant/slave, will probably have many more years together after the events of the play. Due to his penchant for academic procrastination and internal frustration, Hally will probably stick around his parents’ tea shop with Sam for the foreseeable future. Thus, I’m asking the question: how many years would it take to turn Hally and Sam into Pozzo and Lucky? Let’s look at some classic Pozzo quotes and how Hally and Sam’s situation exhibits some similar traits to those expressed in the quotes.
POZZO: “Why he doesn't make himself comfortable? Let's try and get this clear. Has he not the right to? Certainly he has. It follows that he doesn't want to. There's reasoning for you. And why doesn't he want to? … He wants to impress me, so that I'll keep him”
This quote focuses on the rights of subordinates—more specifically their lack of rights. In Master Harold, we see inklings that Hally doesn’t think Sam has the same rights as he does. Regarding education, Hally’s supercilious tone toward Sam when discussing his studies leads us to believe that Hally doesn’t think Sam is entitled to an education. Moreover, Hally sees himself as benevolent and generous by giving Sam the gift (which he is apparently not entitled to in South African society) of education. If this mindset were to solidify and compound over many decades, Hally would definitely say what Pozzo said here.
POZZO: “Compared to him I look like a young man, no?”
This quote is significant because it highlights the age disparity between master and slave: the slave is considerably older than the slave. In Master Harold, Hally is twenty-five or so years Sams’s junior, yet the imbalances in their relationship would warrant the master making derision-filled remarks like this one. Pozzo insults Lucky here by commenting on his shoddy appearance, the exact opposite of elder respect. When Hally does disrespectful things like spitting in Sam’s face, it is easy to see how that behavior could continue and grow into the constant abuse that Pozzo throws at Lucky.
POZZO: “(sobbing). He used to be so kind . . . so helpful . . . and entertaining . . . my good angel . . . and now . . . he's killing me.”
Here, Pozzo reminisces about the good times and kind moments shared between him and Lucky. This mirrors Sam’s countless kindnesses towards Hally when he was young (most apparent when he carried Hally’s drunk father home and made a kite to cheer Hally up). This quote also signals a change in that relationship—things now aren’t pleasant like they were before. In Master Harold, Hally and Sam may have already reached this turning point. After the play’s final confrontation between the two, it may be impossible to revive a semblance of kindness between Hally and Sam. Their good times might already be over, leading Hally to say things similar to this quote.