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Chapter 4 of To Sir With Love finds E. R. Braithwaite digressing somewhat from his narrative about the new school where he has just been hired. He reflects upon his eagerness to become a Briton, not merely a British person. That is, he wishes to become part of the English citizenry. This hope has been encouraged by his years in the R.A.F. in which he was treated with all the deference due any "uniformed and winged" man. After he finished his schooling, Braithwaite returned to the Appointments Office where he was interviewed by two courteous men who questioned him about his academic background, service career, and experience in industry. He explained that he had been working for two years as a Communications Englineer. Shortly after this interview, Braithwaite is told about two positions that are open for qualified communications engineers.
Having written to the companies, Braithwaite is granted interviews. However, when he attends the first one, the interviewers question him about theory and his position in South America. Then, Mr. Symonds who has questioned him, tells him frankly that the company cannot use him because they cannot put him in a position of authority without upsetting the balance of the good relationship they have always possessed there. Resentment fills the heart of Braithwaite as he recalls how he was treated as an equal when he wore a uniform, when he was in battle, and when he was in a pub or tavern: "I had forgotten about my black face during those years." Braithwaite feels that the interview has been a "betrayal of faith." He calls two other firms that were interested in him and explains that he is a Negro. These employers thank him for phoning, saying that the positions had been already filled. As he walks along, Braithwaite reflects that belief in the old ideals dies hard. When he was in the R.A.F. he perceived Great Britain as "the hub of fainess, tolerance and all the freedoms." Now, he realizes the difference between his being a Briish citizen and being a Briton, one who lives in England. He feels that the Britons expect of him
a courteous subservience andcontentment with a lowly state of menial employment and slum accommodation.
Braithwaite concludes that he must forget his experience in the war. Now people are settling down to a life free of terror and communal fears which had promoted communal virtures were disappearing.
Chapter 5 finds Braithwaite experiencing the same disppointments as he seeks employment. Disillusionment has changed to a deepening hatred as he is no longer courteous to older people, and he glares at curious children. Then, one day as he sits near an elderly gentleman at St. James Park, who begins to talk, finally drawing Braithwaite into the conversation, Braithwaite tells the man of all his disappointments. The gentleman suggests that he try teaching, telling him that his degrees and education will substitute for training. The East Side of London needs teachers because it is a tough area, he tells Braithwaite. "And you think it would be just right for a Negro, I suppose," Braithwaite accuses. The old gentleman scolds him, lest he become a snob himself. Braithwaite apologizes.
Just as the old gentleman has predicted, Braithwaite is invited to the Ministry of Education for an interview. Then, he receives a letter of acceptance, followed by a letter confirming his appointment. He is sent to Greenslade School.
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