Question 1 : Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow.
(i) Who is talking to whom in this extract and about whom? Why did he emphasise on appreciation?
Answer : Mr Florian, the Headmaster is talking to Mr Braithwaite, the narrator about the school students.
Mr Florian emphasised on appreciation as the total income of many students’ families was quite insufficient to prove them the basic amenities of food, warmth and dry shelter which was necessary for good health.
(ii) Mention the factors responsible for pressure and tensions in the life of the children.
Answer : By the very nature of their environment, the children were subject to many pressures and tensions. They belonged to poor families where the so-called breadwinner was chronologically unemployed or quite uninterested in seeking employment. As a result, meals were irregular and of very poor quality. They had lived in stuffy and overcrowded rooms. Their breakfast comprised of a weak tea and a piece of bread.
(iii) What was expected from the staff members with regard to the students?
Answer : The staff members were expected to give these students affection, confidence and guidance. They should neither force not restrict the development of the children. They should not exercise some authority over them. Florian wanted the staff members to understand the pressures and tensions that the students were going through and help them. They should also discourage them from smoking, use of bad language and rudeness.
(iv) What made the narrator increasingly irritated?
Answer : The incessant talk about children’s problems irritated Braithwaite. His own experiences during the past two years remined him that these children were white. He did not least care for the forced undue tensions and pressures upon them. to him, they were just a bunch of white children. He had come to do the job and not love them.
(v) Florian considered the students to be helpless. Did Braithwaite agree with him? What formed his impression about the students?
Answer : Braithwaite was impressed by the concern and enthusiasm that Florian had for the children. Florian considered the students to be helpless children but what Braithwaite had seen in the auditorium made him form a totally different perception of them. He had seen the husky youths and girls living in the auditorium. The boys were staring at the girls and the girls being aware of this, danced to show more skin to have most of the attention.
Question 2 : Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow.
(i) What happened to the narrator on his way home? Why?
Answer : On his way home, Braithwaite was happy and content. A feeling of effervescence of spirit built up inside him. He was overjoyed and felt like shouting out loud. He embraced the wonderful feeling of being employed and that mattered to him the most at the moment.
(ii) How was the job taxing for the narrator?
Answer : The job was quite taxing for the narrator as the environment of the school was rather frightening and challenging. There was no form of punishment allowed in the school. The students were nearly adult individuals. The majority of the children were difficult, rude, rough, ill-mannered and undisciplined.
(iii) What forced the narrator to become a teacher?
Answer : The narrator did not become a teacher out of any sense of vocation. Nor did he decide in the interest of youthful humanity or the spread of planned education. It was a decision forced on him because he wanted to feed his stomach. Some incidents after his demobilisation from the Royal Air Force in 1945 had forced him to do this job.
(iv) Why was the narrator confident that he will be able to cope up with his job?
Answer : The narrator was confident that he will be able to cope up with the job. He had the enthusiasm to learn. He was sure that now nothing could stop him. He was excited at the prospect and challenge of having to cope with such nearly adult individuals. Moreover, he thought that when others could cope then he could also.
(v) What did the narrator observe in the classroom of Mrs Drew?
Answer : Braithwaite spent the afternoon in Mrs Drew’s classroom. He observed and admired the skillful way in which she blended patience with firmness, order with bubbling activity. There was a constant hum and buzz in the classroom as the youngsters were engaged at different tasks in groups, but she was not a bit irritated. She thought it was good that they were busy learning something even though it seemed rather chaotic. She believed that was they will grow older, they would see the need for greater concentration and silence.
Question 1 : Florian’s description of the children as ‘helpless’ was very much at variance with what Braithwaite had seen in the auditorium. Comment.
Answer : Florian told Braithwaite that the majority of children were subjected to punishment and authority when they were young and they have thus learned to defy any kind of authority. They have lived in harsh conditions which forced undue tensions and pressures upon them. They belonged to poor families and they were not cared for well enough. He also told him that the total income of many of these families was quite insufficient to provide for them the minimum requirements of food, warmth and dry shelter which was necessary for good health. Florian stressed on the need of affection, confidence and guidance on the part of the teachers.
Braithwaite was impressed by the concern and enthusiasm that Florian had for the children. However, he thought that Florian considered the students to be helpless children, but what Braithwaite had seen in the auditorium made him form a totally different perception of them.
After the lunch-break, Braithwaite went into the staffroom with other teachers. While he was consumed in his thoughts, he heard loud music. He was informed that it was the midday dance lesson which happened daily and the students were allowed to use the hall. Mr Weston remarked “Dancing is the voluntary exercise by which they keep themselves fit for the more exciting pastime of teacher-baiting”.
As Braithwaite moved a little towards the auditorium, the rush of sound hit him like a blow. He saw four couples and about twenty pairs of girls jiving to the music of an inspired trumpet player. With their faces taut and expressionless, mouths slightly agape, skirts cartwheeled out, they spinned and reversed in the spontaneous, intricacies of the dance. Their easy and confident movement suggested long and frequent practice. Several boys were also sitting there and were staring at the girls. The girls, being aware of his, danced to show more skin to have most of the attention. Against the insinuating pulsation of the drums the muted trumpet urged the dancers on. Even the low-level watchers kept up the tempo with a soft, rhythmic clapping or a quick twitching of haunches and shoulders. Even the narrator felt a desire to join them.
Suddenly, the red-haired girl, who had nearly collided the narrator earlier, came to him and boldly asked him to dance. However, Braithwaite refused politely. Thus, the experience that he encountered in the auditorium was very much at variance with Florian’s description of children.