Chapter 4 : To Sir, With Love Questions and Answers ICSE Class 10

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

Relieved, I walked about, somewhat aimlessly and tried to pull myself together. The more I thought of it the more I realised that the whole interview had been a waste of time. They had agreed on their decision before I had walked into that office, the receptionist had told them about my black face and all that followed, had been a cruel meaningless charade. I stopped suddenly, struck by a new realisation. Those folks must have looked at my name on the application forms and immediately assumed that I was white;…………..

(i) Why was the narrator walking aimlessly at this point of time?

Answer : The narrator was walking aimlessly at this point of time as he faced disappointment and resentment. He still could not believe that the was rejected on the basis of his skin colour. He was completely blank and was devastated at the entire situation.

(ii) Why had the whole interview been a waste of time?

Answer : The whole interview had been a waste of time as the interviewers had agreed on their decision before Braithwaite had walked into that office. The receptionist had told them about his black face in advance and all that followed had been a cruel meaningless charade.

(iii) Why had the narrator forgotten about his black skin?

Answer : The narrator had forgotten about his black skin when he had volunteered for the air-crew service in 1940. It had not mattered during his flying training. During those years it did not matter when , uniformed and winged, he visited theatres and dance-halls, pubs and private houses.

Although, he saw his skin daily, never noticed it’s colour and he was always encouraged and welcomed by grateful civilians.

(iv) Why was he sent a flowery invitation for the interview?

Answer : Braithwaite wrote to three firms and received encouraging replies. There was nothing about Braithwaite’s name on the application forms that identified him as black. The firms would have thus immediately assumed that hw as white.

Therefore, the flowery letters and pleasant invitation to interview were really intended for the white applicant they imagined Braithwaite to be.

(v) Why was Braithwaite angered and disgusted?

Answer : After facing rejection on the basis of skin colour, Braithwaite called the two remaining firms. He explained to them that the he was a Negro, but would be very happy to attend the interview if his colour was not a barrier to the possible employment. However, in each case, he was thanked for telephoning but was informed that the post had already been filled.

Actually, the other two companies also rejected him after getting to know that he was black. Braithwaite was thus angered and disgusted at the prejudice in the eyes of the British.

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

I realised at that moment that I was British, but evidently not a Briton and that fine differentiation was now very important. I would need to re-examine myself and my whole future in terms of this new appraisal.

(i) Why did the narrator feel that he was  British but not a Briton?

Answer : The narrator had grown up with the idea of British way of life. He did not even apply for American citizenship because he thought he was much related to the British ideology. But now he saw prejudice in the eyes of the people of Britain. His faith had been torn apart and he realised at that moment that he was British but evidently not a Briton.

(ii) How were Negores in American treated?

Answer : In America the prejudice was open, obvious and blatant. However, as a nation it has granted to its Negro citizens more opportunities for advancement and betterment than any other nation in the world.

American Negores were established as artisans, doctor, lawyer, etc. In terms of social and religious intercourse, they have been largely independent on white people.

(iii) How were the people in Britain different in their prejudice against the Negores?

Answer : The people in Britain never actually admitted to anti-Negro prejudice. Although, a Negro was free to board any bus or train and sit anywhere, many people avoided sitting near him.

A black was free to see accommodation in any licensed hotel or boarding house but was courteously refused. All this, however, was never ascribed to prejudice according to them.

(iv) What made the narrator re-examine his future?

Answer : The realisation that he was British, but evidently not a Briton made the narrator re-examine his future. That fine differentiation was now very important. He realised that the war was over and he must find a job. His new thinking stressed the need to re-examine himself and his whole future.

(v) What resulted in betrayal of faith for the narrator?

Answer : The interview that happened in Mayfair constituted to the mind of the narrator, a betrayal of faith. He had always believed in freedom, in the freedom to live in the kind of dwelling he wanted, provided that he was able and willing to pay the price.

He believed in the freedom to work at the kind of profession for which he was qualified, without reference to his racial or religious origins. Now all the big talk of democracy and human rights seemed spurious to him. He had been betrayed by the place to which he felt close.

Long Questions

Question 1 : Give a detailed account of the first job interview. Mr Braithwaite had in the Head Office of a  firm in Mayfair which had a vacancy for a qualified Communications Engineer.

Answer : The industry was re-organising itself for post war production and there was already an urgent demand for qualified technologists, especially in the field of electronics. The appointment office, upon learning about his qualifications, informed Braithwaite about three prospective jobs.

Braithwaite wrote to all three stating his qualifications and experience and soon received every encouraging replies in each with an invitation to an interview. Everything was working so smoothly for him, that he felt on top of the world.

He went to the first company which was located in Mayfair. It had a high international reputation. Braithwaite took great care of his appearance that morning. He wore his best suit the right shirt and tie and pocket handkerchief. His shoes were smartly polished, his teeth were well brushed and he wore a radiant smile.

When he approached the receptionist desk, she smiled quite pleasantly. However, the moment she came to know that he had come for an interview, her expression changed. Her smile disappeared and she seemed rather cold towards him. She looked into the diary to verify whether he was the applicant since his name seemed to be English but he turned out to be a black man.

She spoke on the phone in great privacy and rapidly and watched him furtively all the while. After that she told him to follow her. She walked rather haughtily to the office with a disapproval which was echoed in the tap-tap for her high heels.

Braithwaite was shown into a spacious room where four men sat at a large table. After the introduction and basic pleasantries, he was closely questioned on tele-communications and the development of electronics in that field. The questions were studied , deliberate but they put him at ease.

His nervousness began to vanish , as he confidently answered all the questions on the theory, equipment circuits, operation, on his training in the USA and on his experience there in South America. He now began to enjoy the interview as the many years of study and hard work, the extensive field work and research were about to pay off.

Mr Symonds then, very calmly told him that although he had his associates were completely satisfied with his credentials and abilities but they would not be able to employ him. Employing him would mean placing him in a position of authority over a number of their English employees, many of whom have been working with them from a very long time. Such an appointment would put the firm’s relationship at risk.

Braithwaite was disgusted and hurt. He felt nauseated as he realised the truth and reality of being a Negro in Britain. He was devastated at this.