Good-bye, Mr. Chips

by James Hilton

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How does marriage to Katherine affect Mr. Chips?

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Although his marriage to Katherine does not last long before she dies, it is a bright light in Mr. Chips's quiet, orderly life as a school teacher.

Katherine and Mr. Chips meet while they are both on a holiday. She is twenty-five, young enough to be his daughter, with blond hair, blue eyes, freckles, and "flashing eyes." She is a new, modern woman of the type Mr. Chips never thought he could like, but they both fall in love within a week.

Everyone at Brookfield loves Katherine when she arrives as Mr. Chips's bride. With Katherine, Mr. Chips brightens up and becomes more cheerful and adventurous. He becomes less rigid and set in his ways, and relaxes some of his discipline with the boys. His sense of humor broadens, and he learns to be less conservative in his views.

Due to the changes Katherine causes in him, Mr. Chips blossoms fully in his mature years. The boys move from respecting him to loving him because of the more confident and happy person he has become.

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First and foremost, Chips's marriage to Katherine changes his rather chauvinistic attitude towards women. Previously, he'd dismissed their intellectual abilities, deriding modern women in particular as "monstrous creatures." Yet Katherine, very much a modern woman herself, helps Chips to see the error of his ways. Though always a fundamentally decent man, Chips was in a state of arrested development when it came to women. Thankfully, Katherine changes all that.

Chips's marriage also has a remarkably positive effect upon his career. He becomes a more disciplined, effective teacher in class, much less absentminded. Married life is so agreeable to him that he loosens up, cracking jokes with the boys and becoming a well-liked master with just about everyone at Brookfield. Katherine's love, intelligence, and unfailing patience help to make Chips appear younger, more confident, more open-minded and much less stuffy. Both Chips and his pupils derive enormous benefit from his startling transformation.

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