Matilda considers the effect of the Civil War on her village, writing that two babies died of malaria just before Christmas that year. She explains that it wasn’t until she was older that she fully understood the tensions between Bougainvilleans and the “redskins,” who had arrived on the island to work at the mine and then used their positions to edge natives out of their jobs. Many of the villagers, Matilda says, supported the rebel fighters who lurked in the jungle and fought against the “redskins.”
The Bougainville Civil War plays an important role in Mister Pip because it illustrates the consequences of a lack of cross-cultural understanding. While Dolores pits her ideas against Mr. Watts’s teachings, the “redskins” and rebel soldiers vehemently fight one another to prove their superiority and dominance. As such, Jones shows the consequences of cultural stubbornness on both small and large levels, making it easier for readers to grasp the fact that hybridity and collaboration are the most effective tools when it comes to navigating seemingly insurmountable differences between two groups of people.
Matilda writes that she herself hoped only for “hope itself,” knowing that “things could change because they had for Pip.” She then briefly summarizes Pip’s changing luck, which comes about when, after working as a blacksmith, he learns that he is the beneficiary of a large amount of money and that the “money will be used to turn [him] into a gentleman.” Inspired by this idea, Mr. Watts explained to the class that a gentleman always does the right thing. When one of the students asked if a poor person could be a gentleman, Mr. Watts said, “Money and social standing don’t come into it. We are talking about qualities.” Resuming her overview of Pip’s ascent, Matilda explains that the young man left home—“the blacksmith’s forge”—for London.
Pip’s move to London is significant for Matilda because of her own relationship with the idea of home. When Pip sets out to become a gentleman in London, he leaves behind life as a blacksmith and, thus, everything he has ever known. This transition surely resonates with Matilda, given the fact that to leave home would be an improvement upon her life, albeit a painful one. As such, a parallel emerges between Pip’s life and hers, one that broadens her perspective regarding her own situation, teaching her to hope for “hope itself” based on Pip’s eventual success.