Justify the title of Good-bye, Mr. Chips.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Mr. Chips is a long-serving master at Brookfield, an ancient public school (which, in Britain, means a school that is private in the sense that parents pay fees but public in the sense that it is famous enough to have a public reputation; the equivalent of an American preparatory school...

See
This Answer Now

Start your subscription to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your Subscription

Mr. Chips is a long-serving master at Brookfield, an ancient public school (which, in Britain, means a school that is private in the sense that parents pay fees but public in the sense that it is famous enough to have a public reputation; the equivalent of an American preparatory school such as Exeter or Andover). The novel opens when he is an old man and looks back over his life and his teaching career.

Mr. Chips's real name is Mr. Chipping, but he is so frequently referred to as "Chips" that it has become as standing joke for the older boys to convince new pupils that this is his real name. Because it is traditional for pupils to greet masters as “sir” and only use their names when saying goodbye, Chips only finds out that a particular boy thinks this is his name when he says "Goodbye, Mr. Chips."

Others use the name too and it soon becomes part of school tradition. When Chips gets married, his wife says, the night before their wedding:

I feel rather like a new boy beginning his first term with you. Not scared, mind you—but just, for once, in a thoroughly respectful mood. Shall I call you "sir" —or would "Mr. Chips" be the right thing? "Mr. Chips," I think. Good-bye, then— good-bye, Mr. Chips...

The whole book has a valedictory tone, since it concerns an old man looking back on his life at the end of it. In the last chapter, Chips dies in his sleep and Brookfield says its last goodbye to him:

He seemed so peaceful that they did not disturb him to say good-night; but in the morning, as the School bell sounded for breakfast, Brookfield had the news. "Brookfield will never forget his lovableness," said Cartwright, in a speech to the School. Which was absurd, because all things are forgotten in the end. But Linford, at any rate, will remember and tell the tale: "I said good-bye to Chips the night before he died..."

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team