To Sir, With Love 12th Class Questions & Answers
The novel, To Sir, With Love is in the syllabus of the 12th Class of Maharashtra State Board in English Syllabus under the section 4 Genre Novel. The novel, To Sir, with Love is in the 4.2. In this novel, To Sir, with Love, students will be to write answers for 4 marks. Two questions will be asked for two marks each. The questions will be on Plot, Theme, Setting, Characters and Half-yearly report of the student’s council of the novel To Sir, With Love.
Introduction : To Sir, With Love
- Eustace Edward Ricardo Braithwaite (27th January, 1912 to 12th December, 2016), known as E. R. Braithwaite, was a Guyanese- born British-American novelist, writer, teacher and diplomat, best known for his stories of social conditions and racial discrimination against black people. He was the author of one of the famous 1959 autobiographical novel, ‘To Sir, with Love’.
- He also wrote ‘A Kind of Homecoming’, about his tour of Africa, ‘A Choice of Straws’, a novel set in London, and ‘Reluctant Neighbors’, a memoir and treatise about racism. Braithwaite’s numerous writings primarily deal with the difficulties of being an educated black man, a black social worker, a black teacher, and simply a human being who found himself in a set of inhumane circumstances. ‘To Sir, with Love’ is an autobiographical novel.
- The narrator is an engineer, but to make both ends meet, he accepts the job of a teacher in a rough London East End school. The school is full of troublemaker students who were rejected from other schools for their behaviour. At the beginning, the narrator is ridiculed and bullied by the students, but later his calm demeanor and desire to see them succeed gradually earn him their respect.
Major Characters • Ricky Braithwaite, Narrator • Gillian Blanchard • Mrs. Dale-Evans • Denham • Pamela Dare • Mr. Florian
Minor Characters • Bob Belmont • Jess Belmont • Jacqueline Bender • Buckley • Clinty • Josy Dawes • Selma Drew • Patrick Fernman • Hackman • Tich Jackson • Moira Joseph • Monica Page • Palmer • Barbera Pegg • Euphema Phillips • Potter • Jane Purcell • Sapiano • Larence Seales • Theo Watson
Summary of the Novel :
- ‘To Sir, with Love’ is a work of fiction based on the life of the author, E.R. Braithwaite. The main character, E. R. Braithwaite, works as an engineer in an oil refinery. He served in the Royal British Air Force in the war. After the war, being a black person, he was unable to find employment. As a last resort, he applied in a school to become a teacher. Surprisingly, he is accepted at the Greenslade School in London’s East End, and is set to teach the senior classes of the school.
- While reading the novel, we have to understand that the time period in which the story takes place is very important. Braithwaite finds that even though he considers himself British and has served in the Royal Air Force (RAF), the English do not consider him to be one of them. This makes Braithwaite bitter about the English and the colonialism, as well as about his white students.
- Braithwaite’s teaching position starts out roughly and he is embarrassed time and again. He considers his students disrespectful, ill-mannered and mischievous while his students consider him to be an arrogant outsider, unfamiliar with the social environment in which they have grown up. The students harass him from day one, slamming their desks during his lecture, using foul language, and bullying him to a great extent. Even the girl students do not spare a moment to harass Braithwaite. In a reaction to that Braithwaite verbally scolds the girls for acting in an unladylike manner and being unruly in the class.
- When he understands that his outburst has not gained him any respect and co-operation from the students, he changes his teaching and handling tactics and he decides to interact with them as though they are adults and respectable persons. He requires every girl be referred to as ‘Miss’ and that his students call him ‘Sir.’ At first, the students find this level of deference ridiculous and unnecessary; however, they come around after only a few weeks, completely changing both their hygiene and their attitudes towards one another. This marks the success of Braithwaite in handling the students in a very amicable way.
- To increase the class cultural exposure, he takes them on field trips and excursions to museums and theatres, to everyone’s surprise many of the students have never been. A white female teacher, Gillian Blanchard, accompanies the class on these excursions; this marks the beginning of a friendship between Blanchard and Braithwaite. Similarly, Braithwaite’s relationship with his students is tested many a times.
- Although his students frequently disappoint and hurt him, he learns to forgive them, the students constantly surprise him with their maturity, empathy and knowledge.
- Another facet of the story which greatly affects its narrative lies in the heavy history of colonialism, its dark consequences, mental and physical trauma that increases Braithwaite’s hatred and wrath for British. He constantly feels the prejudicial effects of colonialism while living in England after World War II, and these negative experiences frequently shape his thoughts and actions. Braithwaite is surprised and shocked by the conditions in which these students live, and also the physical trauma of the war that can be seen throughout his teaching environment.
Theme of the Novel : To Sir, With Love
- Students-teacher relationship, prejudice and racism are the major themes of the novel.
- E. R. Braithwaite gets a job of a teacher in a rather rough and notorious school. He finds that the students belong to a background that is not suitable for learning and their overall development and progress. He notices that the students are in no mood to change their attitude and behaviour.
- Braithwaite with his novel and creative ideas, innovative techniques and understanding the students’ psychology, ultimately wins their hearts in no time. Though he was bullied, harassed, mentally and physically tortured many times, he didn’t lose his patience and continued implementing his novel ideas and techniques that helped him to bring a significant change in his students’ lives.
- The racism prevalent in Great Britain during the mid-1940s, the time period during which ‘To Sir, with Love’ takes place, is of primary significance in the novel. The narrator cites repeated incidents in which he experiences the racism of white Britons, including encounters on the bus, at job interviews, at Greenslade school, when searching for housing, at a restaurant with his girl friend and so on.
- At the outset, Braithwaite is struck by the unexpectedness of such prejudice. He was brought up in British Guiana and he viewed himself as a British citizen, not as a black British citizen in a British colony. When he served Great Britain in the Royal Air Force, that gave him respect and esteem in the society. The day he left the job, he finds himself to be an outsider.
- Braithwaite’s extensive experience and education was of no use in job interviews, where he is informed that the job has already been filled or he is overqualified for it. This heightens Braithwaite’s sense of betrayal for the British. Interestingly, he never lashes out physically and only rarely does he do so verbally.
- He exhibits patient endurance at times, and at others he describes the way the rage inside him is transforming into hatred so strong that he desires to hurt those who treat him unfairly. As a result of such experiences, Braithwaite finds the students at the Greenslade school to be a bit notorious and rough in behaviour but with proper care and treatment, all the students would surely achieve success and desired goals in their lives.
Synopsis of the Extract Chapter 17
- In this extract, Braithwaite recounts the half-yearly report of the Students’ Council, in which the students of the school report to the faculty and other students on what they have been studying thus far. Braithwaite’s class representatives speak knowledgeably about their coursework and place a considerable amount of emphasis on how much they have learnt about different people, cultures, customs, and the importance of international and interracial cooperation. begins first, and it is obvious that as the students progress through the ranks there is ‘a marked development in their ability to express themselves’. Mr. Braithwaite’s class, being the oldest, was the last to present their report.
- Miss Joseph begins the highest class’s proceedings by clarifying that the common theme underlying all their studies this term is the interdependency of mankind. Potter speaks in the field of Math, focusing on how greater understanding in the world is fostered by the use of common weights and measures. Miss Pegg and Jackson speak on Geography, and Miss Dare and Fernman discuss the subject of Physiology, with Fernman stealing the show by exhibiting a model of a human skeleton and stressing the class conclusion that “basically all people were the same.” Miss Dodd reports
- Miss Joseph and Denham, both students of Braithwaite’s class, preside over the meeting. At the outset, Mr. Florian, the headmaster, addresses the meeting with a lengthy, but well-received presentation. One after another, each class gives a brief report of their progress, through their chosen representatives, on what they have been studying in each subject so far. A panel of teachers is chosen for each class to answer any questions regarding the report submitted by the class. The lowest class on History, and Miss Joseph on Domestic Science. Denham creates a stir by speaking on the required subject of P.T. and games, complaining that the class ‘was ill-conceived and pointless.’
- Mr. Weston, Mrs. Dale-Evans, and Miss Phillips are chosen at random to answer students’ questions arising from the senior presentations. When Denham pursues his inquiry on the necessity of requiring all students to take P.T., Mr. Weston responds quite ridiculously, trying to bluster his way out of the subject, and offering no coherent argument. Unexpectedly, the quiet and hesitant Miss Phillips steps in and gives a sturdy defense of the practice, and Denham, knowing that he has been outwitted, has no choice but to respectfully cease his heated protest. Braithwaite is immensely satisfied with the progress of the students of his class.
Questions and Answers :
Q. Answer in about 50 words to the questions given below :
Q.1 Explain how the setting of the extract ” To Sir, with Live” contributes to the theme of the Novel.
Answer: In the novel “To Sir, with Love” the writer E. R. Braithwaite mentioned three major themes. The first theme is students – teacher relationship, the second theme is prejudice and the third theme is racism.
The first theme students – teacher relationships: The setting of the theme is Greenslade School in London’s East End part where the narrator is accepted a job as a teacher and is set to teach the senior class of the school.
The second theme is prejudice: Being a black person, the narrator faced so many incidents of racism of white people. the setting of the novel is the mid-1940s, in those days white people were not accepted black people (Guynese) were one of them. The narrator faced such racist encounters on the bus, at job interviews, at Greenslade school, at a restaurant with his girlfriend and so on. As a result, Braithwaite is struck by the unexpectedness of such prejudice. The narrator started to find himself to be an outsider.
The third theme is Racism: The setting of the novel is mid – the 1940s, which was the period when racism was prevalent in Great Britain. Being a black he cites so many incidents in which he experiences the racism of white Britons.
Q.2 Describe in brief the plot of the extract from “To Sir, with Live”.
Answer: The narrator, E. R. Braithwaite accepted a job as a teacher in the Greenslade school. the school students were full of troublemakers, ill-mannered, disrespectful and mischievous. In the beginning, the narrator is ridiculed and bullied by the students but later the narrator succeeds to win their respect.
The setting of the extract is the half-yearly report of the students’ council in which the students of the school report to the faculty and other students on what they have been studying thus far. Braithwaite’s class representatives speak knowledgeably about their coursework and place a considerable amount of emphasis on how much they have learnt about different people, cultures, customs, and the importance of international and interracial cooperation. begins first, and it is obvious that as the students progress through the ranks there is a marked development in their ability to express themselves. Mr Braithwaite’s class, being the oldest, was the last to present their report.
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