Good-bye, Mr. Chips

by James Hilton

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Describe Mr. Chips' satisfied state during his death scene in "Good-bye, Mr. Chips".

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As Mr. Chips is dying, he hears people around him commenting on his life. One person says, "Poor old chap—must have lived a lonely sort of life, all by himself." These commentators do not realize that Mr. Chips has led a life that has been full of connections to other people. In his last moments, Mr. Chips hears a kind of celestial chorus sung by many of the boys he taught in his lifetime. Hilton writes:

And then the chorus sang in his ears in final harmony, more grandly and sweetly than he had ever heard it before, and more comfortingly too . . . Pettifer, Pollett, Porson, Potts, Pullman, Purvis, Pym-Wilson, Radlett, Rapson, Reade, Reaper, Reddy Primus . . . come round me now, all of you, for a last word and a joke . . . Harper, Haslett, Hatfield, Hatherley . . . my last joke . . . did you hear it? Did it make you laugh? . . . Bone, Boston, Bovey, Bradford, Bradley, Bramhall-Anderson . . . wherever you are, whatever has happened, give me this moment with you . . . this last moment . . . my boys . . ."

These boys' spirits are with Mr. Chips in his last moments, and he imagines them as singers accompanying him to his final resting place. The music he hears is sweet and brings solace to him, and he remembers many of the boys he taught in an alliterative fashion (that is, the lists he comes up with use alliteration, as the names that appear together start with the same sounds). This litany of names reminds Mr. Chips that he has led a life full of purpose, friendship, meaning, and connection to his students, and his soul is at rest.

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Mr. Chips is on his death-bed, shortly about to pass over into eternity. He's incredibly weak but not in any pain. He drifts in and out of consciousness, scraps of distant memories flickering in his fading mind. By his bed-side, Cartwright and Merrivale are in hushed conversation. They only appear to have known Chips in his later years, as a retired old gent living at Mrs. Wickett's place. It's clear from their brief chat that they feel pity for him as he appears to have led such a sad and lonely life. Merrivale tells Cartwright, to the latter's surprise, that Chips used to be married and that it was a pity he never had any children.

But Chips doesn't need anyone's pity; he's lived a full and happy life, on the whole, despite experiencing a number of personal tragedies. There's no need for anyone to pity him and no need for any regrets. Although he never had any children of his own, he acted as a surrogate father to many of them during his long years at Brookfield:

"I thought I heard you—one of you—saying it was a pity —umph—a pity I never had—any children... eh?... But I have, you know... I have..." The others smiled without answering, and after a pause Chips began a faint and palpitating chuckle. "Yes—umph—I have," he added, with quavering merriment. "Thousands of 'em... thousands of 'em... and all boys."

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