Please provide a summary of Chapter 5 of To Sir with Love.

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jmj616 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 5 of To Sir with Love, the narrator describes his difficulties in finding a job.  His problem is neither lack of qualifications nor lack of experience; rather, his main problem is his black skin.

The first job interview the narrator describes is at an electrical firm in Dagenham which is looking for technicians.  The interviewer rejects the application because, he says, Braithwaite is much better educated and better-dressed than the other employees.  "They might resent the posh way you speak," he says.

After this rejection, Braithwaite begins to develop a hostile, "cancerous" attitude toward British society.

His life changes when he by chance meets an old man in St. James's Park.  The old man listens sympathetically to Braithwaite's problems.  He then suggests that he look into becoming a teacher.  He specifically recommends that Braithwaite look for employment in London's East End neighborhood, which was known as "rather a tough area." 

Braithwaite is interviewed by the Ministry of Education, is hired, and is ordered to report to the Greenslade School.

The rest, they say, is history.

daledavis348 | Student

 In chapter 5, Braithwaite still looks for a job. Here, the character of Braithwaite remains the same since all those interviews that he has gone in this chapter and racially rejected by them because of the color of his skin. The character also changes.

 Braithwaite keeps on searching for jobs but he always gets the same kind of response “To black”. He then saw an advertisement of the electrical form at Dagenham. He went to the Personnel Office and when he was called to the manager, the manager asked him why he wanted this job. This is when Braithwaite gets irritated because whenever he went for a job interview, he was racially rejected not by his academic skills but his skin color. “I need the job to help me pay for little things like the food I eat, the cloths I wear and the lodging I occupy.” But then, he was still racially rejected when the manager politely says that he will not fit here because none of his employees are uneducated and he also says – “They might resent the posh way you speak and….” This shows the theme of racism. This is also the possible answer which rejects Braithwaite for every interview.

Till here, the character of Braithwaite is in a sad/angry/irritated mood. But then, he meets someone that picked him up from the dark to the light. In St. James Park, he met an old man. “A big city cannot afford to have its attention distracted from the important job of being a big city by such a tiny, unimportant item as your happiness or mine”. He encourages Braithwaite to become a teacher in East End of London because they desperately need teachers over there –“From all accounts it is rather a tough area and most teachers prefer to seek jobs elsewhere”. Listening to the words of the old man who has sat with Mr. Braithwaite for two hours talking about the situation and still not exchanged names, he tries to apply for that job. He gave his CV to the Ministry of education. They called him for the interview and it went well and he got a job in Greenslade School.He also says that they did not care for his color. The East end of London, people talk openly. The area is a war effected, dirty and messy place and not a suitable attraction for people.

 Till this point, Braithwaite’s character starts to change. His character is now in a relaxed and in a happy mood. So in this chapter, the character of Braithwaite is developed.

The plot if this chapter is when he meets the old man in the park feeding the ducks. The plot is developed when they both have a two hour talk. The old man is the main person of the plot and he is the one who changes Braithwaite and helped him continue to search for a job and finally, Braithwaite got the job in Greenslade School.

The theme that is introduced in this chapter is racism; mainly racism. Every single time when Braithwaite goes for an interview, the theme of racism is introduced. They racially reject him because of the color of his skin. Also, the theme of friendship is introduced. It is introduces when Braithwaite has the talk between the old man in the park. Usually people don’t get closer to Negros in London just like it happened in the first chapter when the lady refused to sit with Braithwaite in the bus. But this old man was freely talking to Braithwaite and through their talk; we can find that they were friendly.