Good-bye, Mr. Chips

by James Hilton
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Examine Mr. Chips's characterization.

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The original question had to be edited.  I would suggest that Mr. Chips's characterization represents the very best of what teachers can and should be.  Mr. Chips demonstrates a love for what he does and the lives he touches as a result.  He takes pride in being able to recall memories of his students as well as being able to have taught generations of them.  Mr. Chips is a constant in a world of mutability.  He stands as a figure that does not change, even through the world around him is one of perpetual change at a frenetic pace.  He recognizes the very essence of education as needing to be a buffer between the insecure demands of the world and the nurturing of young minds and souls.  Mr. Chips represents this in how he interacts with his students, telling them not to be scared in the most fearful of moments.

Another aspect to the characterization of Mr. Chips is that he recognizes that he is ordinary.  Mr. Chips' life is nothing extraordinary.  He is an ordinary man, an ordinary teacher, at an ordinary school.  Yet, he recognizes that despite these conditions, he is able to do extraordinary things.  Mr. Chips is able to do the most extraordinary of accomplishments and experience the most extraordinary of loves even though he is an "ordinary" person.  In not being afraid of critical moments, he demonstrates this.  Encouraging his children during a bombing attack, being able to stress what counts for character and human dignity, and standing as a testament to the past in light of a challenging future are all extraordinary actions from a self- described "ordinary" man.

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