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Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Essays + Interviews Who's Who/Cast + Credits Story Synopsis Novel to Film Russell Baker Links + Bibliography Teacher's Guide The Forum Masterpiece Theatre Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Story Synopsis [imagemap with 8 links]

Story Synopsis

Mr. Chips is the much-loved schoolmaster who devotes his life to Brookfield school and its generations of schoolboys in this poignant, classic story of a man who becomes a truly inspirational teacher.

Plot Revealed Below!

It is 1880 when 28-year-old Latin teacher, Mr. Chipping, arrives at Brookfield School, on a term's probation. While he doesn't get off to a good start with the rowdy and ill-disciplined pupils, he eventually wins them over with his sharp, funny manner and his genuine gift for teaching. The headmaster, Mr. Wetherby, keeps him on and he soon becomes part of the fabric of the school and close friends with German teacher Herr Staefel.

Chipping settles into Brookfield life. He is a passionate teacher who does not tolerate bullying or prejudice. He is particularly supportive of those pupils on scholarships, knows each boy by name and is, in turn, respected by them. Yet he is frustrated when he is not promoted to housemaster.

While on holiday in the Lake District, he meets and falls deeply in love with Kathie. The two marry and Kathie sweeps through Brookfield like a breath of fresh air. She sets out to eliminate Brookfield's tradition of bullying, befriends the boys -- regularly inviting them to tea -- and even initiates a social evening with the local girls' school. They make a formidable team and Mr. Chipping -- now nicknamed 'Chips' -- is made housemaster of the prestigious Wellington House.

But his happiness is short-lived when Kathie and their infant son both die during childbirth. Swallowing his grief, Chips returns to the classroom but the news has already spread and the boys mourn with him.

When a new head teacher, Ralston, arrives with extensive plans for modernizing Brookfield -- including introducing increased fees, the disbanding of scholarships, a modernized curriculum and the founding of an officers corps -- Chips and Staefel are unsettled.

With the outbreak of the First World War, Staefel finds himself increasingly unsettled by the anti-German feeling ebbing into the school and is forced into resigning by Ralston. Chips protests this harsh treatment of his close friend, putting his own position in jeopardy. Eventually it is Ralston who is forced to leave and the governors invite Chips to become headmaster. A beaming Chips accepts. War continues its blight on the school; Chips has to break the news to his pupils of the deaths of their fathers, family members and former pupils. The most difficult news he has to announce is the death of his old friend and former colleague Staefel. The black-edged telegrams continue to arrive and Chips creates a pictorial memorial to all those who died.

Finally the war is over and, now in his eighties, Chips is presented with the first copy of the history of Brookfield School at a celebration party. At the event packed with pupils past and present, Chips remembers years gone by and when he is introduced to a former student's daughter Kathie, he hears his own Kathie whispering in his ear.

Overcome by the day, Chips collapses and is taken to his bed. As he drifts in and out of consciousness, he hears Doctor Merivale and Rivers talking about his life, lamenting his childlessness. Chips smiles. "But I do have children, hundreds of them -- and all boys." With visions of them passing before him and with Kathie at his side, Chips gently dies.

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