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Jack Read, a working-class boy, wins a scholarship to a public school as part of a post-World War Two experiment in bringing boys of different social classes together. He meets much snobbery along the way as he strives to earn acceptance from his fellow students and some of the teaching staff. Written by
The Guinea Pig is about a lower middle class boy called Jack winning a scholarship and going to an English public school called Saintbury. There he is bullied by other pupils for his lower class origins and disliked by his house-master who resents any sort of change. We see him flogged by a senior pupil for burning a couple of pieces of toast and by his house-master for walking along a riverside park with a local girl. His house-master is repelled not just by his class background but by things such as his eating habits. Jack wipes out a plate with a piece of bread. We do see Jack having a meal at home and there is nothing wrong with his table manners there. As for the infamous use of the word "arse" with Jack's upbringing he probably would not have used the word in the first place. Education at this school is muscular Christian with an emphasis on sports such as "rugger" and cricket. The teachers wouldn't know what a lesson plan was. Their method of teaching in this film is is take out your book and turn to page ... and lets read around the class. The school library cannot be of much use because we see Jack make a mess of a history paper and is then told by the progressive Mr. Lorraine to go to the local bookshop and buy a specific book on the subject. The book should have been in the library in the first place or why set the assignment? After four years at this institution we find that Jack wants to go to Cambridge to read for a degree and become a teacher. Well, he could have stayed in East London; there were some excellent nearby grammar schools during the postwar years and he then could have entered the University of London. This films message is that the public schools would have to change and accommodate a Labour government. The public schools didn't really change and the Labour party never had the backbone to take them on.
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