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Elias Jonas-Sessions

This reluctant Welshman put sadism into the schoolroom and blighted the hero's schooldays in How Green Was My Valley

Welcome to Wales, the land that has populated staffrooms across the globe. But was any teacher quite so awful as Mr Jonas-Sessions? With his red hair and pale mean eyes Mr Jonas has it in for Huw Morgan, our working-class hero, and calls him a "dirty little sweep".


Jonas believes his job is to curb Welshness in his pupils "There is no wonder that civilised men look down upon Welshmen as savages. However I shall endeavour to do my utmost for you."

At least he has a mission statement.

His "utmost" mainly involves walloping the Welshness out of young Huw. Chancing upon our hero fighting in the playground Jonas thrashes him until his cane breaks. He calls it "teaching manners".

Does he have some kind of a problem?

"Nothing that was of Wales or the Welsh was any good," writes young Huw. "Mr Elias Jonas-Sessions was ashamed."

So it's himself he hates really.

He's in good company. Once local heavyweight Dai Bando sees the state of Huw's back he hates Mr Jonas-Sessions too and pays him a visit.

To "teach him manners"?

You've got the idea. And right in the middle of religious instruction. Jonas tries to hide among the children and under the headmaster's gown but Dai smacks him round the face, takes off his belt, gives Mr Jonas six of the best and throws him in the coal hole.

We're supposed to applaud this violence to teachers?

The value system was different in those days. The Morgan family are strike-breakers and yet they're actually the heroes of How Green Was My Valley.

I say violence breeds violence.

It does. Later Jonas strikes back at young Huw and Huw duffs him up under the blackboard.

What do his parents have to say about all this?

"I hope you gave him a good kick," cries Huw's sainted Mama.

These people are awful. What happens to Jonas in the end?

The head demotes him to teaching infants, presumably because they're too young to beat him up.

How dreadful was my valley. Is there a moral to this sordid tale?

He who lives by the whack should pick his opponents more carefully.

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