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Lucky Jim

Kingsley Amis


Key Facts

full title ·  Lucky Jim

author ·  Kingsley Amis

type of work ·  Novel

genre ·  Comic novel; Campus novel; Satire

language ·  English

time and place written ·  1951–1952, Great Britain

date of first publication ·  1954

publisher ·  Gollancz Press

narrator ·  Third person

point of view ·  The third person narration follows Jim Dixon's point of view. The narrative describes what Jim thinks and feels, and describes other characters as Jim would see them.

tone ·  The narrative has an objectively comic tone. The novel focuses on what the various characters are doing or look like, and renders these facts in a mocking way. Jim himself is not free from mockery, but it is self-mockery, and demonstrates Jim's critical attitude toward himself.

tense ·  Present

setting (time) ·  The late 1940s or early 1950s

setting (place) ·  A university in the English countryside

protagonist ·  Jim Dixon

major conflict ·  Jim Dixon struggles to convince his boss, Professor Welch, to keep him on at the University. He must also decide whether to stick with Margaret Peel, a colleague who is becoming his girlfriend, or go after Christine Callaghan, the beautiful, high-class girlfriend of Professor Welch's son, Bertrand.

rising action ·  Jim Dixon gets himself further entangled with Margaret Peel by making a drunken pass at her and asking her to the Summer Ball; Jim Dixon endangers his job security by accidentally setting fire to his while staying at Welch's house.

climax ·  Jim Dixon escorts Christine Callaghan home from the Summer Ball; Jim knocks down Bertrand Welch and tells him what he doesn't like about him; Jim gives the College's end of term Lecture drunk and insults several faculty members.

falling action ·  Jim Dixon gets a well-paid job in London with Julius Gore-Urquhart; Jim learns from Margaret's previous companion, Catchpole, that Margaret staged her suicide attempt to get attention, leaving Jim free to pursue Christine Callaghan.

themes ·  "Luck" as opposed to "entitlement" accounting for one's lot in life; the value of straightforwardness over pretension and hypocrisy; the difference between social classes

motifs ·  Facial features as an indicator of personality; a capacity for contempt as a marker of male "soundness"

symbols ·  Margaret's green Paisley dress and quasi-velvet shoes; Professor Welch's fishing hat and Bertrand's beret

foreshadowing ·  Margaret's cageyness about the details of her suicide attempt; Caton's refusal to give Jim a definite answer about a publication date for Jim's article

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