Mister Pip

Lindsey Anderson, Andrew Kemp, Marshall Williams, Nat Davis


  • Island of Bougainville in Western Pacific, off the coast of Papua New Guinea

  • Now the largest island in Solomon Island Archipelago

  • Early 1990s

  • Controlled by Papua New Guinea (Redskins)

  • Natives were black; white men were seen as outsiders

  • The people spoke pidgin and english

  • There is no formal government over Bougainville

  • Largely uncivilized/very small villages and expansive jungles

  • There was a mine in Bougainville that was invested in by an Australian company

  • The mine employed Bougainville natives

  • Mining establishment was taken over by Papua New Guinea (Redskins)

  • Bougainville natives form a rebellion to reclaim their mine and country

  • A Civil War dubbed The Bougainville Conflict ensued between Bougainville rebels and Papua New Guinea Redskins

  • Papua New Guinea forces formed a blockade to choke the island

  • Before the blockade was established most white people, australians, and some natives fled to surrounding lands to escape conflict

  • This is where Mister Pip begins, on a war-torn, isolated island, void of most white men and lacking all modern amenities

Modern Context

Ongoing Civil Wars in Africa

- Across the world there are currently numerous civil wars with rebels rising to overthrow the government

- More and more youth are getting wrapped up in the wars

- Children are put at risk in war torn countries


- The white minority contrasts other places where they are the majority

- Butchering of people and animals, burning homes and whatnot, relates to terror groups like ISIS and Boko Haram

- Favoring extremism over education, rebels and village alike.

Significance To Us

Generation Exchange

- Mr. Watts has the adults of the village come and share their stories and experiences

- Recently Woodneath Library participated in a Generation Exchange

- We were paired with older people and interviewed them as they shared their life stories/experiences

- The generation exchange works to preserve the value of oral stories and experiences like Mr. Watts worked to preserve the stories of the village

Significance to Peers

- The value of education and imagination

- The value of a strong adult figure in your life (how Mr. Watts impacted the protagonist)

- The value of family (the protagonist naturally has disagreements with her family, but in the end her mother is there for her)

- Passion (Mr. Watts has a passion for stories, Matilda has a passion for learning and for Dickens, her mom has a passion for God and her daughter)

Text To Text

The Book Thief

- Both protagonists find relief from war through the power of books

- Both protagonists have a strong adult figure in their lives

- This strong adult figure teaches them how to view the world in a new light

- Both go on to lead a life that has been greatly influenced by their experiences during war times

Literary Value

  • After Matilda experiences a life shattering event, it begins to rain. She describes the rain as “no ordinary rain” that seeked to “erase the wickedness that had taken place” (212). Jones uses the rain to cleanse Matilda of her tragic life on the island.

  • The village comes together in a time of communion to listen to Mr. Watts tell his life story.

  • Mr. Watts resembles a christ figure. He walks around barefoot, he is good with children, and he has the ever symbolic long beard and hair. When the time came, he steps forward and makes a sacrifice to save his friends

  • Matilda’s life resembles a quest as she struggles to survive the civil war and reach her father in a far off land


Lloyd Jones’s novel, Mister Pip, shows the significance of taking one’s mind away from present perils to escape into the safety of one’s imagination. The protagonist, Matilda, lives on the island of Bougainville off the coast of Papua New Guinea. Her village is currently in the middle of a Civil war between the local rebels and the Papua New Guinea soldiers. The only white man left, their teacher Mr. Watts, shows the children the value of literature and stories. He reads to them Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations, a novel about the adventures of a young man named Pip.

Mr. Watts values the power of words. He encourages the local villagers to share their stories and experiences in order to preserve the culture of the village. No matter how seemingly insignificant the story seemed to be, Mr. Watts gives the speaker his full attention and makes sure the children do the same. When the novel Great Expectations suddenly disappears, Mr. Watts encourages the kids to recapture the novel in their owns words through their own experiences. Through these stories, Mr. Watts takes the children’s minds off of their war torn lives and opens their minds and imaginations to the outside world through the power of words.

Matilda in particular is influenced by Dickens’s novel, and she often relates her life to the life of Pip. In order to cope with stressful situations, she goes into Pip’s world and parallels her life with his. Dickens not only influences Matilda’s life as a teenage girl, but he continues to impact her life as she grows over the years.

In the peak of a near tragic situation Mr. Watts, posing as Mister Pip, agrees to tell his life story. Everyone loves a good story and the animalistic rebel soldiers are no exception. He tells his captive audience how he and his wife, Grace, prepared their daughter’s nursery. Grace, a native of the island of Bougainville, and Mr. Watts, a white man from New Zealand, come from significantly different backgrounds. They both decide to “gather their worlds side by side” and “leave it to their child to pick and choose what she wanted” (188). Mr. Watts and Grace write on the walls to show their daughter the significance of words. Words that express ideas, words that express experiences, and words that express history. Two different worlds come together to show their future daughter the importance of words.

Mr. Watts teaches the children the power of stories that take the listener on far off adventures - away from the pitiful state of the present. Great Expectations helps the children open their minds to the outside world and mentally escape their present lives. The adults share their stories, experiences, and beliefs with the children to preserve their culture. Mister Pip, by Lloyd Jones delves into the intricacies of civil war in third world countries and the effect of coping mechanisms on people from all walks of life.



"Mister Pip"

'Mister Pip' 60 Second Recap

Other Books Like "Mister Pip"

  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

    • Helpful for the understanding of Mister Pip

  • In My Father’s Den by Maurice Gee

  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel

  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

  • The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian

  • Crossing the River by Caryl Phillips

  • Consolation by Michael Redhill

  • Animal’s People by Indra Sinha