The novel Goodbye Mr. Chips was written by James Hamilton in the early 20th century. It is about a teacher called Mr. Chipping. He gets enrolled Brookfield but there is no mention of what subject he teaches. He finds a hard time connecting with the students after which he resorts to punishing them. This appears to have some effect as the students finally give him the respect that he deserves. During his teaching in Brookfield, he meets with a woman, Katherine, who after getting to know each other better gives him the nickname, Mr. Chips. These two finally fall in love with each other and they get married. Unfortunately for Mr. Chipping, Katherine dies together with her baby during delivery. Mr. Chipping is now left alone and does not get married again. The whole of Mr. Chipping’s life is during the time of the wars- the Franco-Prussian war in 1870 followed by World War I.
The setting of the story is during the ancient times. During there were barely any teachers but Mr. Chipping despite having a not so good academic record, he puts effort as being an educator. This shows how scarce teachers were and the hunger for education that any teacher whether qualified or not would do just well. Mr. Chipping takes up this task though he faces many challenges being that his teaches during the era of war. After 65 years of service to the school, World War I breaks out and Mr. Chipping takes back to his profession once again. He takes up his task once again after some of the teachers go into military. He averts tension during an air raid even after being underestimated of his ability. It is unfortunate that some of his students and fellow teachers perish at the war and he is left with the duty of dealing with the effects brought about by the war.
James Hamilton brings out the theme of destruction and disruption brought about by the wars. He uses Mr. Chipping as a tool to support and bring out the theme as well as other sub-themes more effectively. Education is one of the sub-themes with Mr. Chipping’s career proving it though he has a mediocre academic record. His teaching is disrupted by the war as his students and some of his fellow teachers get into the military. They are however not so lucky as to survive the war and Mr. Chipping is left with the task of mobilizing those who are left and eradicating tension among them. The war caused a lot of distraction which forces Mr. Chipping who was already retired to go back to his profession. He is not afraid though he faces opposition from some other people who see him as being a useless old man. He proves them wrong afterwards through his impact and influence during the war. He is not afraid of anybody or anything whatsoever the consequences. He has the ability to connect with anyone from whatever level thus justifying his influence.
Mr. Chipping’s character is one to be admired. He shows determination and is not a quitter in what he does. He takes challenges positively and uses them to his own advantage. He is a shy man who students take advantage of. He reciprocates by being harsh to them and they in turn respect him. They grew to love him as he would sometimes invite some of them for tea and biscuits in his home. He is a man who builds a perfect and strong relationship with anybody whom he associates himself with. Because of this he gets to win over Katherine whom he later marries. Much can be taken from his character as he has a huge impact on all people regardless of their social status or political position.
The initiative that Mr. Chipping takes after his masters get into the military is quite a selfless one. He does not want the boys to lack knowledge even if there is war going on. He views the war as being a soulless act of destruction and disruption. He is not afraid of saying this as he believes that it is true. He sees no honor at all in fighting and that that is no sign of friendship. Despite the turn off of events, Mr. Chipping does not show any fear of the war or whatever might happen to him because airing negative views even against fighters from the opposite side. It is not that he is biased but he just tries to put across that war is not good although in a rather awkward manner. He goes ahead to read out the names of the fallen soldiers who were earlier his students as a sign of respect and honor for their services. He did not approve of any of it but things happened and they were forced into the war. Mr. Chipping’s life is full of ups and downs but in the end he dies an honorable death.