Explain the antiwar theme in Good- bye, Mr. Chips.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The presence of a teacher who must read aloud the names of his students who have become the casualties of war is an antiwar statement.  Mr. Chips recalls these students, his students, sitting in his classroom.  They were full of hope and optimism.  They were children, playing pranks and being "nitwits."  As Mr. Chips reads out their names on a list of those who have died in the war, one sees the antiwar theme of the novel.  Nothing can justify the snuffing out of a life that once was filled with so much youthful hope.  Mr. Chips is a teacher, one who outlives many of his students who die in the war.  The teacher's role as memory of the students that have passed through is the embodiment of an anti- war statement, for nothing can justify such a painful loss.

There is an antiwar statement in Mr. Chips demeanor and what he comes to represent.  Mr. Chips publicly honors a teacher who died fighting for the Germans, as a rebuke to public prejudice.  Mr. Chips is an honorable man.  It is for this reason that his students love him.  Mr. Chips' honor is one that transcends the brutality and dishonor of war.  For the reasons that he is beloved in terms of honor, dignity, and treating people as ends in of themselves and not means to an end, his characterization is rebuke of war.  


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