When my cousin who’s about to complete his University expressed his dislike for James Hilton’s Goodbye Mr. Chips, I became defensive and wasted no time in suggesting that the story is not that much boring and while we were busy sharing our thoughts, my uncle who himself read this story in his intermediate course intervened and also showed his lack of interest about the atmosphere in Mr. Chips.
It’s been thirty years that Mr. Chips is a part of intermediate course and for some time a debate is going about removing it from syllabus.
Mr. Chips is a story of a school teacher about which it’s said that Hilton created this character after his father.
Originally written in 1934, the story is adapted into cinema films and two television presentations.
While some people are of the view that it should be removed and replaced by some modern tale, my mind takes me back to the time when our teacher would ask one of us to read a chapter from Mr. Chips and later she would translate it in Urdu for us.
At the end of lecture we were asked to prepare notes from guide books.
It was her way of teaching literature and this is the common way in which the novella is taught to our students in colleges.
Eminent Professor Bhem Singh Dihya from India always reminds his students that literature is a study of life and we cannot study Mr. Chips without establishing its connection with life.
In life, we often meet persons like Mr. Chips. They’re ordinary in appearances but they possess some special qualities.
Hilton’s character Mr. Chips knew how to teach languages and with this quality, he succeeded in leaving strong impact upon generation of students in his time.
Mr. Chips was a sincere soul and as a teacher, he did hard work to achieve a high status at a Brookfield school.
How can we say that the world of Mr. Chips has grown old when themes of sincerity and hard work towards one’s job are still relevant in our society of 2018?
Another criticism which is put forward by the opponents of this story is about love affair of Mr. Chips. They consider Katherine and Chips relation dull and boring.
Unlike modern tale of Twilight series, the love affair of Katherine and Chips was such that there was lack of show of emotions in it but the reader needs to study the underlying theme in their love affair.
Katherine’s influence changed not only chauvinistic attitude of Mr. Chips but also altered him in a way that he became more effective teacher in a class.
How can we consider such kind of love dull when its influence alters personality to that much extent?
It somehow takes me back to 2008 when suicide attacks were common in country. Once it happened that while we were in class a suicide blast killed dozens of policemen near our University. Confusion erupted among students and phones started to ring immediately. Other teachers informed our professor but he continued to give his lecture.
Our minds were so occupied with the situation outside that we didn’t grasp a thing from his lecture.
Now, there’s a scene in Hilton’s story where Mr. Chips in the midst of bombing not only kept on teaching Latin but also carried on cracking jokes so to divert the attention of frightened students in his class.
Our teacher on that day in our University class didn’t try to calm us down. He only wanted to complete his lecture and though he succeeded in doing so, he unlike Mr. Chips failed to leave any impact upon his students.
When my cousin is of the view that reading Mr. Chips is a mere waste of time, I’m of the opinion that it’s not the time to say good bye to Mr. Chips. Literature never gets old. It can’t be associated with certain time period and keeping this in view we can still learn a lot from Mr. Chips.