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Rick begins to react to not getting a job by beginning to strike out "in unreasoning retaliation". He had been jobless for nearly eighteen months, and the disillusionment with which he had initially reacted is giving way to "a deepening, poisoning hatred". Rick has "tried everything - labor exchanges, employment agencies, newspaper ads", and everyone has turned him down. Their reason for denying him employment are "all variations of the same theme: too black" (Chapter 5).
An Englishman who has served in the R.A.F. during World War II, Rick has spent time in the United States, where he has encountered racism that is "open, obvious, blatant". Britain, in contrast, admits to no anti-Negro prejudice: "a Negro is free to board any bus or train and sit anywhere...the fact that many people might pointedly avoid sitting near him is casually overlooked...he is free to seek accommodation in any licensed hotel or boarding house - the courteous refusal which frequently follows is never ascribed to prejudice". Upon reflection, Rick concludes that racism does indeed exist in Britain, and the fact that it is "perpetrated with the greatest of charm and courtesy" only makes his feelings of betrayal even greater (Chapter 4).
In looking for a job, Rick has found that he is considered "too well educated, too good for the lowly jobs, and too black for anything better". Cultured and refined, he is overqualified for menial labor and he has been told that he would not fit in as a manager because those beneath him might resent "the posh way (he) speak(s)"; the unmentioned truth is that they would not want to think that a Negro might be more refined and educated than themselves. "Caught like an insect in the tweezer grip of prejudice", Rick finds himself responding with anger. He is for a time "no longer disposed to extend to English women or elderly people on buses and trains those essential courtesies which, from childhood, (he) had accorded them as a rightful tribute", and even finds himself glaring at small children who look at him with curiosity.
Fortunately for Rick "this cancerous condition (is) not allowed to establish itself firmly". The unexpected kindnesses and acts of friendship and unselfishness which he from time to time experiences from the most unlikely sources are enough to keep him from descending into a sullen, long-lasting, bitter attitude of despair (Chapter 5).
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