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Lucky Jim | Study Guide

Kingsley Amis

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Lucky Jim | Chapter 7 | Summary



Margaret thinks Dixon and "the Callaghan girl" are acting insane and so disapproves. Dixon hides the burned table in a spare room and then attempts to explain to Margaret how hilarious the whole thing is, but she is not amused.

Dixon attempts to apologize for his sloppy pass of the night before. "Poor old Margaret," he thinks, and "rested his hand, in a gesture he hoped was solicitous, on her nearer shoulder." She does not find him solicitous; she is still furious. Finally, she gives up and says she needs to go back to sleep.

Dixon feels "the Callaghan girl" has behaved much better than Margaret. As he's contemplating their differences, he receives the phone call from Atkinson excusing him to come home early. With deep relief he flees the Welches' house.


It's just funny. Poor Margaret comes off very, very badly in comparison to Christine. How could she not? She's a grownup, and she and Dixon already have a relationship. Dixon behaves like a child. Boys will be boys! Yes, the Welches are terrible, and he is reacting to their lack of genuine culture and their middle-class terrors, but he still mistreats Margaret rather badly, even if only by treating the younger and more attractive woman better.

Dixon's flight from the Welches' weekend is the beginning of his descent from semiapproval at the college to full-on disaster. It's not clear if he's behaved this badly before. Professor Welch's obliviousness is his essential characteristic; he wouldn't refer to Dixon's previous behavior because he probably never noticed it anyway. His son Bertrand, however, is a new and sharp comic foil to Dixon. Bertrand represents so much of what Dixon simultaneously despises and yet longs for. The elder Welch son is tall, monied, and seemingly free to sleep with whichever ballet dancers, bookshop girls, and friend's wives he chooses. Dixon, meanwhile, can't even get into Margaret's knickers. Bertrand lives in London, which might as well be a foreign land to Dixon. Bertrand is a painter, a great career for someone who doesn't need to earn money. Dixon, on the other hand, depends on his job for its income and social status. Finally, Bertrand has a beard, wears a beret, and is a blowhard. These are easy targets for Dixon's derision. Not until the final chapters is Bertrand revealed as a truly unpleasant and hostile man, not simply a lucky one.

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