Who are the main student characters in the novel?  E. R. Braithwaite's To Sir With Love

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In E. R. Braithwaite's To Sir with Love, there are two main student characters in the new teacher's class:  Pamela Dare and Denham.  However, there are also others such as the cheeky Jane Purcell whose mature figure causes her to feel the equal of adults.  She frequently uses the offensive "bleedin'" for math problems or whatever else the students are assigned. When Braithwaite corrects her diction, she turns his question, "Do you use such words when speaking to your father?" to a insulting remark, "You're not my bleeding father" and clearly disturbs any discipline he has achieved.

Pamela Dare, on the other hand, takes a strong liking to Mr. Braithwaite.  She is a pretty red-haired, mature-looking student who is at first somewhat defiant, but later defends her teacher when the students are on the subway as they take their field trip.  In fact, she develops a crush on her teacher, but Braithwaite conducts himself so professionally that she does not compromise his position.  He serves as a role model, counseling her against staying out late at night and getting herself into trouble. In the final chapter, Pamela is the representative of the class who gives Braithwaite a present with the inscription, "To Sir, with Love" on it.  As she returns to her seat, she breaks down.

Denham, who is described as a "blase" student is an athletic young man more interested in physical things such as boxing or sexual activity with girls.  He defies Braithwaite's role as disciplinarian and teacher by bringing obscene magazine's into class.  But, in Chapter 11 when he and Braithwaite literally come to blows in a boxing match and Braithwaite punches Denham in the stomach, the muscular boy acquires a respect for his teacher, addressing him as "Sir" without any sarcasm in his tone. Later, he becomes one of the leaders of the class.


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