In To Sir, With Love, even though Braithewaite has not been trained to be a teacher, why does he choose to be one?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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At the end of Chapter Three of To Sir, With Love, Ricardo, "Rick," Braithwaite narrates that he is ecstatic that he has been offered the wonderful opportunity of working "on terms of dignified equality in an established profession."  He explains that he interviewed for the job for the simple reason that he is starving, a condition brought about by events that occurred a week after his demobilization from the Royal Air Force in 1945.

During his release process from the Air Force, Braithwaite is told by an officer whose position was to advise men on their potential careers that he should have no difficulty in finding a job as a civilian.  In fact, he has great experience, having worked for two years as a Communications Engineer for Standard Oil's refinery on the island of Aruba. After two weeks of his release from military service, Braithwaite receives two invitations to interviews.  However, when the companies learn that he is black, they will not hire him.  For, as one personnel man tells him, the white men will not be willing to work with him and take orders from him.

While England did not have segregation of the races as a mandate and blacks could sit where they wanted on buses, etc., there was an unspoken divide in British society.  Braithwaite, a British citizen who grew up on a British colony, realizes that in England things are much different: "Yes, it is wonderful to be British--until one comes to Britain."  For, the English expect of the black, he says, 

a courteous subservience and contentment with a lowly state of menial employment and slum accommodation.

After his experience, Braithwaite is, indeed, disillusioned.  So, when he is treated as he is by the Headmaster at Greenslade Secondary School, Braithwaite feels his dignity renewed.

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pratishtha11's profile pic

pratishtha11 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) eNoter

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Mr.Braithewaite being subjected to racial abuse,finds great difficulties in findind a job, he neither lacks qualification nor experience but his black skin is his main hurdle.One day he is sitting at St.James Park,where an old man all of a sudden tells him that its no ones fault,this big city cant be distracted from its job of being a big city by anyones happiness.He said that these disguised prejiduces still exist but that doesnt mean that you will lose hope,we need to fight till the end.He then advices him to be a teacher in the East End of London.He follows up the old man's advice and writes to the Ministery of Education.

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