When Mr. Braithwaite first arrives in his classroom at Greenslade Secondary School, he is met with disregard and flippancy.
In Chapter Six as their new teacher enters the classroom, the students who are standing around in small groups pay no attention to his entrance. Gradually, however, they take a seat. When Braithwaite calls their names, they respond with mere grunts or with a monosyllabic "yep" and "here."
To begin with, Mr. Braithwaite asks students to read in order to ascertain their abilities. As he looks around the classroom, Braithwaite observes a boy with the flap of his desk raised. When he walks back to see what it is that the boy is hiding, Braithwaite notices that he has a flesh-colored doll which he is manipulating in a lewd fashion. "Will you put that away, please?" Braithwaite asks, and the boy lets the desk flap slam down.
Then, after order is restored, Braithwaite asks the students to read; he is appalled at how terribly they do so. Finally, a girl named Pamela Dare reads with fluency and expression. But, after she finishes reading, she looks at Mr. Braithwaite in a defiant manner, "satisfied with this vindication of her colleagues."
After the students' morning break, Mr. Braithwaite conducts a lesson in arithmetic involving weights and measures. He does not receive much response, but one boy who likes to wrestle discusses the various weight classes and another boy named Tich Jackson suddenly responds with all the correct measures of weight. Still, there are quips said by others and some posturing and challenging of Braithwaite's authority. The teacher responds to this disrespect as he sharply says, "That's enough." Then, with deliberate sarcasm, Braithwaite tells his students that while many people he has known have been disturbed by their lack of knowledge, he is impressed that they find it "amusing." Further, he tells his students that he anticipates "a happy time: with them this year." After hearing the teacher imitate their attitude of sarcasm and disrespect, they murmur such things as "bleeding cheek" and their smiling ends. For the rest of the period, the class now listens and pays attention until the lunch bell.