James Hilton’s novel Goodbye, Mr. Chips is the story of an English schoolmaster who dedicated his entire adult life teaching young boys. He was a somewhat shy person. Nevertheless he was a competent school teacher, professional and attractive in many different ways. Although his first teaching experience was not successful, he was determined to become a good schoolmaster. After coming to Brookfield, he began to warm up to his students. But more important he brought discipline to his school which is the requirement for good teachingsomething he did not achieve while teaching at Melbery.
After teaching 25 years at Brookfield, Chips was still unmarried. Everyone thought that he would never get married because he had passed the usual marrying age. But, he did marry and it happened under unusual conditions. He went on a trip to the Lake district of England and there, he met his future wife, Katherine Bridges. During the trip, he was climbing a steep hill when he saw a woman from far waving at someone down below. The woman was standing on a dangerous-looking ledge and appeared to be asking for help. Chips thought that she needed to be rescued and proceeded to help her. Instead of helping her, he hurt his ankle, and in the end, she ended up helping Chips. Within weeks after their first meeting, they fell in love with each other and before the end of summer, they got married.
Katherine deeply loved Chips and he loved her in return. Within a short time, the charming Katherine turned Mr. chips into an good-natured gentleman who was adored by his students. He was changed by the power of love. Chips became a kind, congenial, friendly individual to everyoneso much so that he became the most beloved teacher at Brookfield. Full of enthusiasm, young English schoolmaster Mr. Chipping came to teach at Brookfield in 1870. It was a time when dignity and a kindness of spirit still existed, and the dedicated new schoolmaster expressed these beliefs to his disorderly students. Nicknamed Mr. Chips, this gentle and caring man helped shape the lives of generation after generation of boys. He became a legend at Brookfield, as continuing as the institution itself. And sad but grateful faces told the story when the time came for the students at Brookfield to bid their final goodbye to Mr. Chips.
This novel Goodbye, Mr. Chips shows its age from the point of sixty five years later. The story becomes a set piece, lost in its 1930s era assumptions. Hilton’s simple, sentimental story about an English school teacher, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, remains as unabashedly accessible as it must have been when it was written. This novel is not a call for whole sale reform of an educational system. Instead, Hilton uses the Chipping character as a metaphor for the value of education in giving the student that most indefinable of the possessions of civilization, a sense of proportion.
The story recaps the professional life of a devoted teacher. The story is propelled cheerfully along, through flashbacks and ironic anecdote. Although the author’s approach may be said to be sentimental, the construction of the plot and the direct yet delicate way in which the themes are driven home are quite appealing. The book does indeed read as though the author understood the potential in his story from the opening paragraph onward.
Mr. Chips’ school bound world is not a “real world” in many ways, and yet the novel retains a sense of warmth and reality that many school boy days books can’t maintain. Hilton squeezes into a brief short story gentle wit, a mild love story, and shrewd observations about the importance o a sense of permanence. In some ways, Mr. Chipping is a metaphor for the survival of English middle-class life in the wake of the first world war. We might also view Hilton’s creation of Mr. Chipping in the late 1930s as an attempt to preserve the English middle-class sense of proportion and the rightness of things for a generation under the shadow of the impending war against fascism. Whether we take Goodbye, Mr. Chips as an extended metaphor, or merely as a crackling good read, we are drawn again and again to its quiet, direct story and simple message. In a time when we are rediscovering the virtues of simplicity, perhaps it is time we rediscovered the value of educators who pass our values through the generations.
The main character, Mr. Chips evolves into a personable old man who gains substantial sympathy from the readership. The main character represents an instructor who teaches generations of boys in a local middle or high school. The setting is in Brookfield, England. There is a weirdness about the town, as well as the characters in the book. The portal of time preceded the Twentieth century when teachers stayed in the same job and the same environment for multiple generations.
With each passing generation, the graduating students would reminisce about teachers within each others’ common domain of experience. Mr. Chips was a character not likely to be forgotten due to his longstanding presence as a pedagogue to the many young students in Brookfield. Students would assess critically his memory and style of teaching year after year.
The main character suffered through harsh conditions and celebrated better times. The work is unforgettable due to its cut off ordinariness. At times, the author shifts from the present tense verbal structures to the past tense without sufficiently preparing the reader.
The general grammatical thrust of the book is appropriate for the readership, namely young people. The work prognosticates a time past, however, it is important for students to read literature from different centuries in order to gain an overall perspective on world history and comparative styles of writing in the English language and other languages.
The story is more involved with a complete evolution of the main character from a stingy penny pincher to a generous supporter of the local community. The authors are centered on a single character throughout a lifetime. The author accompanied the readers through decades of experiences in the lives of the involved characters.
Goodbye, Mr. Chips, is about an unconventional but lovable British schoolmaster, Mr. Chips. Apparently intended to be a bachelor for life, he meets and marries a young woman who loosens him up quite a bit, before dying in childbirth. Chips is left alone, except that is for the succeeding generations of boys who pass through Brookfield School. After decades at the school, he retires, telling the assembled alumni, “I have thousands of faces in my mind. I remember you as you are. That’s the point. In my mind you never grow old at all”, only to be called back during World War I, at which point he becomes acting headmaster. One of his duties is to read the list of the school’s war dead; for everyone else they are just names, but for Chips, each name has a face attached. After the War the retireds, after 42 years teaching Roman History and Latin at Brookfield.
Mr. Chips is the living personification of institutional memory. The classes of boys, the teachers and headmasters, even the subjects and teaching methods, come and go, but Chips has remained throughout. He “still had those ideas of dignity and generosity that a frantic world was forgetting.” He embodies the pre-War world and its values. In the very middle of an era that was witnessing an unregulated attack on all of the West’s institutions and values, Hilton created Mr. Chips, it represent the conservative idealproviding a bridge of memory to all that is beautiful and good and decent in our past, just in case, in our zeal to create a perfect world, we forget the qualities and accomplishments which give us the pretty good world in which we live.
This book is unabashedly sentimental. I appreciate the sensitivity non-political way in which they make the most important of political points: even as we move forward we must always preserve those things and ideas of value in our past.