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Lucky Jim | Study Guide

Kingsley Amis

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Course Hero. "Lucky Jim Study Guide." Course Hero. 7 Apr. 2018. Web. 10 June 2023. <>.

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Course Hero. "Lucky Jim Study Guide." April 7, 2018. Accessed June 10, 2023.


Course Hero, "Lucky Jim Study Guide," April 7, 2018, accessed June 10, 2023,

Lucky Jim | Plot Summary

See Plot Diagram


Lucky Jim is the story of James Dixon, a college lecturer in medieval history in the early 1950s. Dixon is disgruntled about most everything: the boring "special topic" he's assigned to teach; his sometime girlfriend, the priggish Margaret Peel; and his boss, Professor Welch, the boorish chair of the history department. While wartime was relatively easy for him, peacetime is unfocused, except in terms of what he despises. During a disastrous "arty weekend" at Professor Welch's home, Dixon meets Christine Callaghan, an attractive young woman he sees as a potential salvation. Meanwhile, he must work on his "Merrie England" lecture, the success of which will dictate his continued employment at the college.

During one college term, Dixon and Margaret break up and reunite, Dixon becomes embarrassingly drunk more than once, and everyone becomes embroiled with the Welches. Bertrand Welch, Professor Welch's son, is a pretentious painter and Christine's putative boyfriend. Bertrand wants a job with Christine's uncle, Julius Gore-Urquhart, a rich patron of the arts. Meanwhile, Dixon works on his lecture and wishes he could muster the nerve to break up with Margaret. She had overdosed on sleeping pills earlier that year over a love affair gone wrong, and Dixon doesn't want to be responsible for another suicide attempt.

At the college ball, all the characters meet and mingle. Christine and Dixon return to the Welch house together and share a kiss. Bertrand reveals his womanizing ways. Gore-Urquhart observes the goings-on. Margaret is furious.

After much conversation, bouts of hysterics, and some madrigal singing, the evening of Dixon's "Merrie England" lecture arrives. True to form, he gets spectacularly drunk before the talk, making himself a sort of folk hero among the undergraduates for his imitations of Welch and the college's principal. He passes out at the lectern; when he wakes up he finds out he's been fired from his post.

However, Dixon will turn out to be "lucky" after all. Gore-Urquhart offers him the job Bertrand Welch so hoped to get. It comes with a salary of 500 pounds a year and requires a move to London—Dixon's ideal destination. At a lunch with Catchpole, Margaret's former boyfriend, Dixon discovers Margaret staged her suicide attempt. He immediately breaks up with her and pursues Christine in a literal pursuit. The book's final chapters detail Dixon's race for a bus and then the harrowingly slow ride to catch up with her at the local train station. Eventually the two reunite and decide to go for tea. The Welches, the college, and the provincial world are now in their past.

Lucky Jim Plot Diagram

ClimaxFalling ActionRising ActionIntroductionResolution2134675


1 James Dixon is wretched both professionally and personally.

Rising Action

2 Professor Ned Welch asks Dixon to lecture on "Merrie England."

3 During a weekend at the Welches', Dixon meets Christine.

4 Dixon and Christine kiss; he and Margaret split and reunite.


5 Dixon's "Merrie England" lecture is a disaster.

Falling Action

6 Professor Welch fires Dixon.


7 In one day Dixon gets a London job and joins Christine.

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