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Lucky Jim | Study Guide

Kingsley Amis

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Lucky Jim | Chapter 9 | Summary



The porter, Maconochie, asks Dixon to take a phone call meant for Welch. Strangely, it's Christine Callaghan on the phone. Christine is attempting to ascertain whether Bertrand will be going to the Summer Ball at the college without her. Her uncle, Julius Gore-Urquhart, will be attending the ball, and she thinks Bertrand may bring her as his date if he knows his would-be employer will be attending.

With his usual aplomb, Dixon suggests a complicated scheme in which he will call the Welches and pretend to be ... someone ... so he can discover Bertrand's plans. He both wants to impress Christine and to aggravate Mrs. Welch, whom he sees as his special nemesis. Dixon tells Christine he will attend the ball himself.

His student Michie appears, still asking about the syllabus for next term's course. Some "pretty girls" may or may not take the class, depending on the subject. Dixon offers to cut the syllabus down to appeal to the girls; his real aim is to sour Michie on the course by slashing "everything that might conceivably interest" him.

Now Dixon takes up Christine's cause: he calls the Welches. When Mrs. Welch answers she immediately recognizes his voice and demands to know what he did with her bedsheets. Panicked, Dixon pretends to be a reporter from the Evening Post looking for the brilliant painter Bertrand Welch. He claims to Bertrand he wants to write a paragraph about him for the paper, making Bertrand describe to Dixon Bertrand's pretentious paintings. Finally, Dixon claims to Bertrand, "Miss Callaghan ... put the notion of this little paragraph" to the paper's staff. Dixon goes deeper into his story, claiming Bertrand must call Christine that evening.

Sweating and smoking, Dixon plans his next steps: "It was all so wonderful ... The campaign against Bertrand he'd fantasized about at the Welches' had begun, and with dazzling tactical success." He'll call Christine and explain how to play along with his story.


Dixon is giving in to his most antisocial, animal instincts, and it's hilarious. To be sure, "giving in," "antisocial," and "animal" are relative terms in the oh-so-proper world of 1953 provincial Britain. Dixon is only about one step removed from your average American middle-school boy, prank calling a grocery store. However, Dixon's lack of control over his life is genuine, and this ploy is a small way for him to feel in charge.

Another thematic thread in this chapter is Dixon's burgeoning loyalty to Christine Callaghan. It is unclear as to why he likes her so much. She seems like a nonentity, albeit good natured and attractive. However, as Dixon's idea of her grows—she is the only one who appreciates his predicament with the burned sheets; she is elegant and charming, especially compared to sloppy, overemotional Margaret—his willingness to defend her also increases, though he doesn't tell her he's trying to defend her. As far as she knows Bertrand is her boyfriend, and Dixon is behaving like a bizarre schoolboy.

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