Chapter 21 : To Sir, With Love Questions and Answers ICSE Class 10

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

“It’s a man’s town. Men everywhere and more men.” Suddenly he laughed, amused, remembering. “Hija del dia,” he said.

I stared at him and breathed a short prayer of thanks for my dark skin that hid the blushes warming my face.

(i) Who laughed? Who is ‘I’? Why has ‘I’ come to meet the speaker?

Answer : Mr Blanchard , Gillian’s father laughed. ‘I’ here refers to ER Braithwaite. He has come to meet Gillian’s parents as they have decided to get married and Gillian wanted Braithwaite to meet her parents first.

(ii) Why is ‘I’ blushing?

Answer : Braithwaite was blushing at the mention of ‘Hija del dia’. It meant ‘Daughter of the Day.’ It was a prostitution center in Aruba.

(iii) How was ‘I’ feeling at the frankness of the speaker? What did he say when asked if he had even been inside ‘Hija del dia’?

Answer : When Mr Blanchard mentioned ‘Hija del dia’, Braithwaite could feel that he was blushing. He told him in signals to cut the topic off as Mrs Blanchard and Gillian were also sitting there.

However, Mr Blanchard informed him that he had already mentioned the place to them. Braithwaite was surprised at his frankness. Upon asking if he had ever visited the place, he denied.

(iv) Which town is being talked about here? Why were there men everywhere?

Answer : The town being talked about here was on the Aruba Island, near the Sir Nicolas Oil Refinery. The refinery was built, managed, and developed by Americans and provided employment for tens of thousands of white and coloured men from the USA, the Caribbean islands and the South American mainland.

However, there was then no prepared accommodation for the wives of the men who flocked to the well-paid jobs and women were a rarity.

(v) Why was ‘I’ feeling happy at having this chat?

Answer : Braithwaite had come to meet Gillian’s parents after she had asked him to do so. They were very nice people but Braithwaite was a bit defensive in front of them as he was black and thought that they would not approve. Though there was no friction between them, he could feel that they lacked connection. They needed a catalyst which was provided by the talks of Aruba Island. Hence, Braithwaite was happy that they indulged in this chat.

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

“No need to become too heated, young man, you have made your point. Don’t forget that Gillian is our daughter and marrying you will not change that.”

(i) Who is the speaker of these lines? Where is the current scene set? Who is the ‘young man’ referred to here?

Answer : The speaker of these lines is Mr Blanchard, Gillian Blanchard’s father. The current scene is set in the house of Mr Blanchard. The ‘young man’ referred to here is ER Braithwaite, who is in love with Gillian.

(ii) In what context are they talking about? What are the feelings of the speaker related to it?

Answer : Braithwaite had come to meet Gillian’s parents as it was arranged, for they had decided to give their relationship a new direction by getting married. Gillian’s father, Mr Blanchard is not totally happy with her daughter’s decision to marry a black man. However, her happiness is much more important to him than narrow prejudices.

(iii) Why has the ‘young man’ become so heated?

Answer : Mr Blanchard was telling Braithwaite frankly that he did not consider it to be appropriate for her daughter to date a black man, forget marrying him. He had never thought that he was prejudiced until being confronted by this situation.

If he could, he would have broken both of them up. He added that not only theirs, but the future of their children was also at stake as they would belong nowhere. All this was too much for Braithwaite and he retorted.

(iv) What had the ‘young man’ said that invited this comment?

Answer : Braithwaite retorted and said that Mr Blanchard need not worry about him and Gillian or their children. He added that even Mr Blanchard would not have ben able to offer Mrs Blanchard any guarantees that her children would be strong, healthy or without physical deformity. They, too, would like to take their chance, though he appreciated how very inconvenient it might be for Mr Blanchard to have coloured grandchildren.

(v) What did the speaker advice Gillian and the young man to do?

Answer : Mr Blanchard told Braithwaite that he was not being rude as other people will be while saying similar things to them. He wanted them to realise that it was a very difficult step they were about to take. He advised them that it would be wise if they waited a while; about six months at least, before taking any further action. Moreover, it would given them enough time to get accustomed to being together and meeting people together.

Long Questions

Question 1 : Why was Braithwaite defensive in front of Gillian’s parents? Why did he think that they needed a catalyst to improve their relationship? What advice did Mr Blanchard give to both of them?

Answer : Braithwaite grew closer to Gillian. Now they wanted to get married and thus Gillian wanted to introduce him to her parents. Braithwaite went to meet her parents as it was arranged. They were both very nice people. They loved their daughter deeply and were concerned about her happiness.

Braithwaite was a bit defensive around them for he knew that prejudices prevailed everywhere. He understood that Gillian’s parents were also in a tight spot. Even Braithwaite had not imagined marrying a white girl before meeting Gillian. But everything had changed now. He wanted to be with her and hence was willing to answer to her parents.

The spent time together and talked a lot. But Braithwaite realised that something was amiss. They needed a catalyst to bring them closer. Then it happened. Mr Blanchard mentioned about his time spent in South America. He was at Aruba. Braithwaite had also been there. Then suddenly, Mr Blanchard mentioned ‘Hija del dia’. Apparently , it was a prostitution centre.

Women were a rarity on the island and the authorities had allowed prostitutes to work under somewhat close medical supervision. The building in which they stayed was called ‘Hija del dia’ or the ‘Daughter of the Day’. Braithwaite and Mr Blanchard remembered that long queues of men could be seen there. Though Braithwaite was embarrassed by this talk, they laughed heartily and the ice was broken between them.

Their talk continued. Mr Blanchard told Braithwaite that he never wanted his daughter to even date a black man. If he could, he would no doubt break their present courtship. He never had thought that prejudice existed in his mind but the situation changed it. Braithwaite retorted at his remarks but the old man asked him to calm down. He just wanted them to think of the consequences and give their relationship some more time. He wanted them to get accustomed to getting out together and spending time with other people around. He welcomed Braithwaite into his family.