Question 1 : Read the extract given blow and answer the questions that follow.
(i) What are the reasons that were given to reject the narrator?
Answer : The narrator was rejected on very lame reasons. He was considered too well educated, too good for the lowly jobs and too black for anything better. And now after this interview at an electrical firm at Dagenham, it seemed, they even resented the fact that he looked tidy.
(ii) What kind of efforts were made by the narrator in order to get a job?
Answer : The narrator tried everything – labour exchanges, employment agencies, newspaper ads and even advertised himself mentioning about his qualifications and the colour of his skin, but could not get a job. He also tried applying for jobs without mentioning his colour, but when they saw him, he was turned down for the same thing that he was black.
(iii) Who is referred to ‘these people’ in the above extract? Why was the narrator slowly and surely hating them?
Answer : ‘These people’ in the above extract refers to the white employers in England.
The narrator was slowly and surely hating these people as they very casually, without any feelings dented him the right to earn a living. These white people always seemed to find faults in all his doings and even in his clothes and rejected him.
(iv) Why the ‘cancerous’ conditions did not establish itself firmly in the narrator?
Answer : Fortunately, the ‘cancerous’ condition was not allowed to establish itself firmly in the narrator. Every now and then some person would say or do something so utterly unselfish and friendly that the narrator would temporarily forget his difficulties and hurts.
(v) Describe in brief, the interview that the narrator had at Dagenham.
Answer : Braithwaite applied to an electrical firm at Dagenham, hopeful that his trained abilities could stand him in good stead. He did not mention his colour. The Personal Manager who took the interview asked him that why he needed the job. He also remarked that he couldn’t afford a suit like the one narrator was wearing. He also said that neither he or his employees were as educated as the narrator.
All this infuriated Braithwaite and he tore the application form, threw it in the waste basket and left.
Question 2 : Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow.
(i) In what way is a great city a battlefield?
Answer : A great city is a battlefield where one needs to be a fighter to live in it. Mere existing is not enough. Anybody can exist, dragging his soul around him like a worn out coat. But living is different. It can be hard, but it can also be fun.
(ii) Where was the narrator and what was he doing?
Answer : Braithwaite was sitting beside the lake in St James’ Park. He was idly watching the ducks as they dived for the bits of food thrown to them by passers-by. Beside him was sitting a thin, bespectacled old gentleman who occasionally commented on the colour or habits of the various species.
(iii) Why did the narrator at first ignored the old man?
Answer : Although the old man sounded quite knowledgeable, the narrator was in no mood to have any sort of conversation with him. He dismissed him as just another garrulous old crank. However, the old man did not seem to mind his unresponsive attitude and continued talking.
(iv) What impression did the narrator have of old men?
Answer : Braithwaite considered old people as garrulous. According to him, some old men want to talk continuously. It did not mater who had been sitting beside them. He thought that even if he walked away the old man would very likely talk to the ducks.
(v) What made the narrator suddenly interested in the old man’s words?
Answer : The old man did not seem to mind the narrator’s unresponsive attitude and kept talking. He said that a big city cannot afford to have its attention distracted from the importance of being a big city by such a tiny and unimportant item as the narrator’s or the old man’s happiness.
This word came out of him so easily and assuredly that the narrator was suddenly interested. Braithwaite found something aesthetic and scholarly about the old man. The old man sounded faintly professional and offered friendliness.
Question 3 : Read the extract given below and the answer the questions that follow.
(i) What all details had the narrator told him?
Answer : The narrator told him about the rejections that he faced on the basis of his skin colour. He also gave the details of his educational qualifications and his work experience. He even mentioned that he was jobless from past 18 months, how he was considered too well educated, too good for the lowly jobs and too black for anything better.
(ii) What was the man’s suggestion to the narrator?
Answer : The old man suggested the narrator to get a job as a teacher. According to him, there was a desperate need for the teachers. The old man was of the view that the Education Authorities may not be bothered about the colour of the people’s skins. He also believed that in that respect the London Country Council was rather outstanding.
(iii) Why was the narrator so hesitant regarding the teaching job?
Answer : The narrator was so hesitant regarding the teaching job because he had no training as a teacher. He also wondered that if these white people did not employ him as an engineer about which he understood quite a bit, then whether they would entrust the education of their children on him.
(iv) Where did the old man suggest the narrator to apply? Why?
Answer : The old man suggested the narrator to apply in the East End of London. The old man knew for a fact that there were many vacancies for teachers there. Also because it was a tough area, most teachers preferred to seek jobs elsewhere. Thus, there was a huge shortage of teachers in that part of the country.
(v) What angered the old man?
Answer : The old man was angry as the narrator underrated the people of the East End of London. He told him that from those very slums and alleyways , emerged many of the new breed of professionals and scientific men and quite a few of the politicians. He warned the narrator that such an attitude will make him a worse snob than the rest of the white people. He also questioned him that whether he adopted this kind of spirit to sought other jobs as well. At this, the narrator felt that he had angered him and apologised as he was showing poor appreciation of his kind interest.
Question 1 : “I was considered too well educated, too good for the lowly jobs and too black for anything better”. Comment.
Answer : The narrator tired everything but could not get a job. Every single time he was turned down for the same thing that he was black. He even advertised himself, mentioning his qualifications and the colour of his skin, but there were no takers. Then he tried applying for jobs without mentioning his colour, but when they saw him they rejected him.
There was, for instance, the electrical firm at Dagenham which advertised for technicians in a local newspaper. No special qualifications were indicated and so he applied. Braithwaite was hopeful that his trained abilities would stand him in a good stead. This time he did not mention he colour. He received a prompt reply and an invitation to an interview. He presented himself there at about 9 am.
A young female clerk handed him an application form and directed him to a room where he was supposed to fill the form and then wait for his turn to meet the Personnel Manger.
Several young men also sat there. The narrator observed that some of them were waiting nervously, while others filled in their forms with worried concentration. There was also a young man who was unsure about his spelling and appealed to the others for assistance.
One by one all of them were called and finally it was narrator’s turn. The Personnel Manager sat on the desk before the narrator and closely scrutinised the application from. They went through the familiar game of question and answer. Braithwaite soon realised that he did not seem very interested in the extent of his technical knowledge.
At last, the Personal Manager asked him as to why he wanted this job. Braithwaite, although somewhat irritated by the irrelevance of the remark, replied that he needed the job to help him pay for little things like food, clothes and shelter.
Another remark was made by the manager saying that he cannot even afford a suit like the one that Braithwaite was wearing. He also said that neither he, nor any of his employees were as well educated as the narrator. He remarked that they might resent the posh way Braithwaite spoke in. He told Braithwaite that he did not fit in the place. Braithwaite was infuriated to the point that he got up, tore the application form, threw it in the waste basket and left.
Disillusionment had now given place to a deep and poisonous hatred. Braithwaite had been jobless for nearly 18 months. He was considered too well educated, too good for the lowly jobs, and too black for anything better. It seemed that the white people even resented the fact that he looked tidy.