Please can you help identify some of the themes in To Sir, With Love?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Well, I would want to argue that one of the biggest themes in this excellent novel is the way in which Braithwaite has to fight for acceptance in so many ways, both because of the colour of his skin and the general disrespect with which his students show towards him. Note the way that when he applies for a job that he is eminently qualified for in Chapter Four, he is refused only because of his skin colour. Note what the person who interviewed him said to him to explain why he could not be given the job that he is perfectly able to do:

"Employing you would mean placing you in a position of authority over a number of our English employees, many of whom have been with us a very long time, and we feel that such an appointment would adversely affect the balance of good relationship which has always obtained in this firm."

Thus it is that Braithwaite is discriminated against because white men would not work well under his authority. We see this battle for acceptance in British society continuining throughout the novel, exhibited in how others think of him, including his future father-in-law. Yet, throughout all of these challenges, Braithwaite continues to battle for acceptance, and is able to achieve it, finding a job that gives him dignity, self-esteem and acceptance.

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