“Up the Down Staircase” by Bel Kaufman Analysis

The text under analysis is a fragment from the novel «Up the Down Staircase», written by Bella “Bel” Kaufman, an outstanding American writer. Bella Kaufman began working as a teacher in various New York City high schools, while also working part-time as a writer (including articles for Esquire magazine) under the name Bel Kaufman. She is best-known for her novel «Up the Down Staircase», which was published in 1965. The book deals with the experience of a young high school teacher and comprises some autobiographical episodes. The novel is written in epistolary genre as contains letters written by a heroine to a friend from college who chose to get married rather than pursuing a career. The letters serve as a summary of key events in the book, and offer a portrait of women's roles and responsibilities in American society in the mid-1960s. The book's title comes from a memo to teachers, instructing them to make sure that students “do not walk up the down staircase”.
The protagonist of the novel is Sylvia Barrett, an English language teacher at a high school who hopes to nurture her students' interest in classic literature. She quickly becomes discouraged during her first year of teaching, frustrated by bureaucracy, the students’ low background knowledge and their mental backwardness, and the incompetence of many of her colleagues. She decides to leave the public school system to work in a smaller private setting. Though she changes her mind when she realizes that she has touched the souls of her students.
The text under analysis is an extract from the protagonist’s letter to her college friend. In the opening paragraph of it the author of the letter indicates the time when she is writing a letter, reacts to the news from her friend’s letter and skips to her problems. She tells her friend about unsatisfactory conditions in public high schools and compares the quotations from the books of mature teachers with cold reality and speaks about impossibility to use them....