What topic/subject is a main point in "To Sir, with Love"? (such as racial and social issues) Including literary terms (i.e. Symbolism and Irony)

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engtchr5 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
To answer this question appropriately, one must consider the setting: Europe during the early-to-mid 20th century was still largely discriminatory in its social views. Opinions of racial superiority prevailed, and segregation was not uncommon. So, for an African-American teacher to enter a classroom loaded with white, largely middle-to-upper class Caucasian students was virtually unheard of. The "colors" of this story make up the better part of its unspoken irony, as the "black" teacher is seemingly purer in thought and behavior than his class full of "white" students. Black typically has been used as a literary device to symbolize that which is evil, impure, or forboding. White, on the other hand, has been used as a symbol of perfection, righteousness, and good. Think of the old westerns -- the cowboys in white hats were good guys, and the ones in black were inevitably the bad guys. This story turns that notion on its ear, much in the same way that "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" also did. In the end, the students gain a developed and healthy respect for their teacher, and everyone's social horizons are broadened through the experience.