Lucky Jim | Study Guide

Kingsley Amis

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Lucky Jim | Chapter 15 | Summary

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Summary

Christine and Dixon stand in front of the Welches' house. It is dark, and no one is home. They decide to break in through the French doors. A shin injury and hilarity ensue. They kiss. Dixon says, "Well, that was very nice," with "a sort of wooden vivacity." Biscuits and coffee are laid out for after the ball, and they share a cup. For Dixon, "This intimacy somehow symbolize[s] and crown[s] the whole evening."

However, the spell is soon broken. After Dixon tells Christine, "I'm very fond of you," she draws back from him. For one thing, there is the matter of her relationship with Bertrand. She doesn't really like him, but she's involved with him. Plus, Dixon has Margaret to think of. Both he and Christine are stuck in relationships based on propriety. In the most British version of throwing caution to the wind, they decide to meet for tea the coming Tuesday. Dixon leaves Christine, departing in the waiting taxi.

Analysis

It would be easy to dismiss Dixon and Christine's problem—their involvement with other people—as being either about gender or middle-class politesse, but it's really about both. Christine may want to be sexually freer than she is, but she knows she cannot risk her reputation. Dixon worries about his job. If he offends the Welch family, he will not be asked back as an instructor and will lose his little income and future. Both are afraid to be honest about their feelings until they are alone together in a dark house. Their decision to take their relationship into the light of day (tea) is bold for both of them.

Here's the extent of how taboo sexual intimacy was for these characters: The birth-control pill was not available, or legal, in England until 1961, almost a decade after the events of Lucky Jim. While other forms of pregnancy prevention existed, they were not easy to acquire, especially for unmarried women. Abortion was illegal. Therefore, sexual intercourse was an inherently risky proposition, especially for the female partner in a heterosexual relationship. Is Dixon willing to marry Margaret if she accepts his pass at the musical weekend at the Welch home? Would he marry Christine? If Mrs. Welch responds with such outrage to the burning of her bedclothes, how might she react to such acts taking place under her own roof? Not well.

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