Lucky Jim | Study Guide

Kingsley Amis

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Lucky Jim | Chapter 14 | Summary



Bemused, Christine admires Dixon's bold new ways. In turn, he is impressed she "ditched" Bertrand at the dance for him. They have a relatively emotional chat in the taxi with Christine confessing she will be 20 in a few weeks. Dixon is nonplussed, even impressed by her youth. Continuing, Christine explains since she came to work in London, men ask her out constantly. Bertrand seems the best of the lot. Maybe she'll marry him; it seems to be what he wants. However, she doesn't feel he has much left for her after his "art." Dixon thinks Bertrand's art is the least of his problems. He admits he doesn't like Bertrand and he does like her. Therefore, he thinks they make a bad match. "Even if that were true, it needn't prevent me from marrying him," she says. He responds, "Yes, I know women are all dead keen on marrying men they don't much like." She says she doesn't know what love is.

Dixon responds with "the longest speech" he'd made for "what seemed to him years." He explains his ideas about love: deciding whether one is "in love" is the least of it; it's the "working-out" that's important. Rather than feeling ashamed at this flood of emotion, Dixon is pleased with himself for speaking. Christine falls asleep snuggled on his shoulder, but soon enough they have reached the Welch house. They go in together.


These small moments of emotional honesty feel like a relief after all of the comic mishaps and business of the previous chapters. The ball takes place over several chapters, and the taxi ride is completed in one. Amis's attention to pacing is notable: the tempo of the music and dancing at the ball lend an antic urgency to that writing. Now, in the taxi, Dixon and Christine speak in longer paragraphs and with real honesty. Amis takes his time to reveal why the characters might actually begin to care for each other. It is much needed, especially as Margaret still seems somewhat sympathetic and pitiable.

Christine and Dixon do not have sex in this chapter, but in many ways they become even more intimate. They talk about love, about expectations they hold for their lives and their futures. Whether they agree, they are talking to each other as people rather than characters. For Dixon, this is more than unusual; it's unheard of.

Christine's youth might be a red flag for a contemporary reader. However, in the context of 1950s England, it was not inappropriate for an older man to pursue someone her age. In fact (and here is the cultural romanticism that has been responsible for so many unequal relationships between young women and older men), Dixon finds her youth promising. She is unsullied by expectations, unlike Margaret or Carol Goldsmith.

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