Chapter 20 : To Sir, With Love Questions and Answers ICSE Class 10

Question 1 : Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow.

Soon they were everywhere, their shutters snapping and bulbs flashing unexpectedly and disturbingly. The children became somewhat excited, and the members of my class were constantly craning their necks towards the door in the hope of having their pictures “took”. During the morning the head sent for me and introduced me to the reporter and cameramen, who were having a cup of tea with him in his room.

(i) Why had the reporters come to the school?

Answer : The reporters had come to the school to prepare a report on it. Mr Florian had been persuaded that he could present his views and policy to a much wider public through this medium, and that it was an excellent opportunity to reply to his critics and detractors.

(ii) Who is ‘me’ in the extract? Why was he introduced to the reporters?

Answer : ‘Me’ in the above extract refers to Mr ER Braithwaite. He was introduced to the reporters because it felt that there were not many black teachers in England and he would serve as a nice example of tolerance.

(iii) Why was ‘me’ angry after getting to know the purpose of introduction?

Answer : Braithwaite was livid when he was told that the reporters wanted to make a report on him as it would mean that there was no colour bar in England. However, Braithwaite had suffered from it and was very irritated by their false propaganda. He told them that he was merely a teacher and did not need to be highlighted like this.

(iv) How did Mr Florian try to convince ‘me’?

Answer : Mr Florian was quite surprised how Braithwaite had reacted. He confessed that he was the one who had actually initiated the idea, believing that any publicity given to Braithwaite’s presence on the staff would benefit the school. He did not think that there were many Negro teachers in England, and they were fortunate to have Braithwaite.

(v) The visit of the reporters proved out to be a disaster. Comment.

Answer : The visit of the reporters was indeed a disaster. They presented the school in a very bad light. Only a small report had been published along with three pictures. In one Mr Florian was seen dancing with girls, in the other, students were seen openly smoking. The last one was the dining hall and Braithwaite writes that “thieves kitchen would have fared better.”

Question 2 : Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow.

I gave the news to the class; they received it in shocked silence, in that immediate sympathy and compassion which only the young seem to know and experience, and then many of them were weeping too.

(i) What news had been given to the class?

Answer : On December 6th, Seales was absent. Just before recess he came in and walked briskly towards Braithwaite. He informed him that his mother died early that morning. Braithwaite gave this news to his class which they received in shocked silence.

(ii) What did the class decide to do after getting the news?

Answer : After recess, Braithwaite was about to begin his lesson when Barbara Pegg, as asked by others, stood up. She told Braithwaite that they had agreed to make a collection among themselves to purchase a wreath or a floral token of sympathy, to be sent to Seale’s home.

(iii) Why was Braithwaite left in utter shock at the conduct of his class?

Answer : Barbara collected contributions throughout the week, and by Friday morning had nearly two pounds. After assembly, they discussed together the type of floral token they had wished to purchase and the nearest florist from whom it could be obtained. Then Braithwaite asked who would take it to Seales’ home but no one was ready for he was black. This left Braithwaite in utter shock.

(iv) What reasons did the class give for their shocking behaviour?

Answer : When Braithwaite questioned them that why wouldn’t they go to Seales’ house, he was told that the reason behind it was the colour of his skin. He was black and it did not matter if he grew up between them. If girls went to his house then they would have to face all sorts of troubles and gossips about them. The behaviour of the society stopped them from going to comfort their friend.

(v) Braithwaite was proud at the end in spite of everything. Comment.

Answer : Braithwaite was very upset at how his class was also filled with prejudices and would not go to comfort their own friend in his time of need just because his skin was black. Pamela dared to take the flowers and Braithwaite told her that he would meet her at Seale’s house. However, when the went there, he saw his class waiting for him. They had shunned their prejudices and came to Seales’ house. This was overwhelming for Braithwaite and his eyes were filled with tears.

Long Questions

Question 1 : Braithwaite was in utter shock at the beginning of his class after the news about the death of Seales’ mother? How did the students explain their situation to him? Why was Braithwaite proud of his class at last?

Answer : On December 6th, came a bad news. Poor Seales lost his mother. Braithwaite informed his class about his sorrow and they were all sympathetic and filled with sadness. After recess, Braithwaite was about to begin his lesson when Barbara Pegg, as asked by others, stood up. She told Braithwaite that they had agreed to make a collection among themselves to purchase a wreath or a floral token of sympathy , to be sent to Seales’ home.

They all collected money the whole week and decided upon the type of floral token that they must take. But when Braithwaite asked who would actually take it to Seales’ home, surprisingly, there were no volunteers. Actually, Seals was also black. The girls said that people would say all sorts of things if they visited his house. It did not matter that he had grown up with them or that his mother was white. Braithwaite was very hurt. He thought that his association with the children had failed. They still followed the baseless prejudices. He was not able to take it from his own students. He cursed them in his thoughts . He left and the class and went to the Headmaster. He narrated the incident to him. But Mr Florian also agreed with the students. He thought that such things were deep rooted in their community and it would take time to get over such narrow prejudices.

After getting some advice from the Headmaster, Braithwaite thought if Gillian would also suffer from such things. He was evidently disturbed. In the class, Pamela volunteered to visit Seales. She was not afraid of gossips and moreover, she had known Seales since they were infants. Braithwaite agreed to meet her at Seales’ home. He was still cursing his students for being so much biased just because someone’s colour. However, when Braithwaite reached Seales’ home, he found his class waiting there. He was touched. He asked God to forgive himself for the hateful thoughts. He regretted his earlier comments and was overwhelmed with love for his students. He even had tears in his eyes.