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Lucky Jim | Study Guide

Kingsley Amis

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Lucky Jim | Chapter 2 | Summary



Margaret and Dixon are having a drink at the Oak Lounge, a pub near the Welches' house. Margaret recalls her suicide attempt and how she felt as she was roused from unconsciousness. Dixon worries she will attempt suicide again, and she assures him she will not. Her ex-boyfriend, Catchpole—the man who purportedly inspired the suicide attempt—has disappeared.

Margaret is amused to learn Dixon will be present at the following weekend's "arty get-together" at the Welch home. She horrifies Dixon by describing all that will take place. She and Dixon are good friends, with much in common, especially their sense of humor about the ridiculousness of their lives and milieu. Margaret explains the elder Welch son, Bertrand, will be coming down for the weekend with his girlfriend. Margaret seems to think she and Dixon have a special relationship, more than a friendship. Meanwhile, Dixon fantasizes about leaving for London.


This chapter highlights Dixon and Margaret's relationship and their different perceptions of it. To a contemporary reader, it is interesting to note how much power Margaret may or may not have in the relationship. Who will decide whether she and Dixon are truly romantically attached? Is their friendship, which Amis writes as genuine, the same as attraction? It is not yet clear what the sexual mores of their scene might be, but it seems safe to assume they will be less than "free."

Margaret and Dixon both feel they must treat Professor Welch with respect; their continued employment depends on it. In private, however, they deride him. Their humor may surprise modern readers who expect 1950s-era characters to be rather dour and preoccupied with rationing and fear of nuclear war. That's not apparent in this book—Amis relishes depicting the absurd and the laughable.

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