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Lucky Jim | Study Guide

Kingsley Amis

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Lucky Jim | Chapter 11 | Summary



On the dance floor with Christine, Dixon feels "like a special agent, a picaroon, a Chicago war-lord, a hidalgo, an oil baron, a mohock." In other words, he feels like a million bucks, the man.

Chatting and dancing, Dixon and Christine realize Carol Goldsmith is upset at Bertrand. Christine is upset at Bertrand, too. Dixon, meanwhile, simply wants Christine to have a nice time with him. Christine says Professor Welch knows Dixon escaped from the arty party weekend under false circumstances. The oboe-playing wet-blanket Johns knew Bill Atkinson called in Dixon's excuse. They head back to the table where Carol, the worse for drink, pulls Dixon back onto the dance floor.


No one at the ball is telling the truth. The style is reminiscent of P.G. Wodehouse—mix-ups and romantic triangles everywhere, all displayed through a particularly proper British event. It also contains more than a touch of British writer Oscar Wilde (1854–1900). Everyone has a secret agenda but remains polite at all costs. The merry mix-up is, again, classic slapstick. It's also complicated. Amis is masterful at keeping many threads of story going simultaneously, even in this set piece of a long party.

Crowd scenes are notoriously difficult to write. It is challenging enough to get one character out of a room, let alone have several of them dancing, switching partners, and discussing their relationships with each other, to each other, out of earshot of the rest of the characters. This scene feels theatrical because there is so much motion, and Amis writes it with such command.

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