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Lucky Jim

Kingsley Amis

Chapters 23–25

Chapters 21–22

Important Quotations Explained

Summary

Chapter 23

Walking in to college on Thursday, Beesley tries to comfort Dixon about his lecture, but Dixon finds a note from Ned Welch in his mailbox telling him that he will not be kept on at the College. Dixon goes upstairs to his office and absent-mindedly flips through an Italian academic journal. He recognizes Dr. L. S. Caton's name next to one of the articles and translates enough of it to realize that it is Dixon's own article. Furious at first, Dixon eventually just laughs. He turns his mind to Johns and possible revenge for Johns's having told Bertrand about Dixon's tea date with Christine. Dixon pockets a few insurance policies sitting on Johns' desk and goes down to the boiler room to burn them.

Dixon starts walking home when he runs into Michie. Michie congratulates Dixon on his lecture, which the students greatly enjoyed, and sympathizes with Dixon about being fired. Michie tells Dixon that he and a few others will miss him. Dixon returns home and gets in the bath. Miss Cutler comes to his door with a phone call for him, and Dixon asks her to take a message. He discovers that the caller was Gore-Urquhart. To Dixon's surprise, Gore-Urquhart offers Dixon the job that Bertrand wanted and tells Dixon to be in London by Monday morning. Dixon leaves his house for his arranged meeting with Catchpole.

Chapter 24

Dixon arrives at the pub to find Catchpole waiting for him. Catchpole explains that he and Margaret were never sexually involved, and also explains that Margaret only pretended to commit suicide so that both Catchpole and Dixon would find her with the sleeping pills in her hand. Catchpole warns Dixon that Margaret feeds on emotional tension and that Dixon should let her go, as she can ultimately take care of herself. Dixon understands, but he still leaves the pub feeling that he cannot get out of his relationship with Margaret.

Dixon returns home for lunch and Atkinson tells him that Christine has called for him. Atkinson gives Dixon a vague message about meeting her at the train station before her train leaves at 1:50 so that she can give him some news, but that she is leaving it up to Dixon whether to come or not. Dixon, confused about what the news might be, runs out of the house to catch the bus to the station. Dixon arrives at the station three minutes before the train is due to arrive, but the conductor says the train to London actually left at 1:40. Dixon assumes Atkinson mixed up Christine's message, but then he sees Welch's car slowly pull up and Christine step out of it and hurry toward him.

Chapter 25

Dixon explains to Christine that she's missed her train, and Christine tells Dixon that Carol Goldsmith told her about Bertrand's infidelity. Christine is now through with Bertrand. Dixon reveals that he knew of the affair all along. Christine feels that Carol has told her about Bertrand because Carol has begun seeing someone else, who Dixon guesses to himself is Gore-Urquhart. Dixon tells Christine that and Margaret are through. Dixon asks Christine if she minds if Dixon comes back with her to London later in the afternoon and tells her of his new job with Gore-Urquhart. Christine laughs at the irony of Dixon winning the job that Bertrand was actively pursuing.

Dixon spots Welch's car parked outside a teashop nearby. All of the Welches, including the younger son Michel, who has come to town the night before, emerge from the teashop. Dixon walks up to them with Christine. About to denounce Bertrand and Mr. Welch, Dixon instead releases a "howl of laughter." Christine leads Dixon away up the street.

Analysis

The final three chapters of Lucky Jim play out somewhat like a fairy tale, and in these chapters it becomes clear that comic destiny will take over and comic justice will be served. Although the serendipity of the final events—Dixon learns of Margaret's deceit, Christine leaves Bertrand, Gore- Urquhart offers Dixon a job—seems entirely like a happy ending, the morality behind ending is difficult to pin down. Has Dixon truly changed at all through the course of the novel, or have his opportunities merely shifted? On the one hand, Dixon does finally become able to articulate his interior frustration with those around him. On the other hand, Dixon does not seem to have improved himself in any specific way, and Gore-Urquhart offers him the job note because of who he is but because of who he is not: "You haven't got the disqualifications." Additionally, the ethics that Dixon and Christine subscribe to at the end of the novel center hedonistically on acting on their desires, rather than taking other people into consideration.

This sort of self-centered ethos can be seen in Dixon's final explosive laugh at the Welches, which also points to his new alliance with Christine. Dixon's laugh, expressive of the contempt he has felt for the Welches throughout, reminds us that Dixon has not laughed all that frequently through the course of the novel. This final laugh recalls his "anarchistic" laugh in Chapter 9 after his Evening Sun phone call to Bertrand; both of the laughs seem to be a gesture of defiance to standards shaping Dixon's life. Dixon has usually laughed alone in the course of the novel, except for select scenes in which Christine laughed with him as well. Thus we have the final angle of comic justice at the end: Dixon is united with the one other character with a sense of humor against all those who don't.

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