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Lucky Jim

Kingsley Amis

Chapters 8–9

Chapters 6–7

Chapters 10–11

Summary

Chapter 8

A week and a half after the Welches' party, Professor Welch calls Dixon into his office for a discussion about Dixon's article. Welch tells Dixon that Dixon's publisher, Dr. L. S. Caton, apparently has a history of shady behavior. Welch suggests that Dixon obtain an exact publication date from Caton. Before leaving, Dixon rouses up the courage to ask Welch about his standing within the department, but Welch tells Dixon nothing has been decided yet. Furious at being strung along, Dixon thanks Welch, thinking to himself that he'll never be able to express his frustration and anger to Welch or to Margaret.

Leaving Welch's office and entering the Common Room, Dixon sees Margaret sitting by herself and feels affectionate and remorseful towards her. Dixon and Margaret have seen each other once since the Welches', when they spent an evening at the Oak Lounge, where Dixon tried to put their friendship back to normal. As they talk, Margaret begins to cry and admits that she's feeling depressed and hasn't been sleeping. Dixon, feeling bad for not having called her the previous evening, tries to placate Margaret with a cigarette and with sympathy, and then asks her to lunch that day. Margaret explains she's expected at the Welches' for lunch and then mentions the Summer Ball on the upcoming weekend. Dixon quickly asks Margaret to the dance, and she cheers up instantly and agrees to both the Ball and lunch. Before she leaves, she mentions that Bertrand will be escorting Carol Goldsmith to the Ball since Cecil is out of town. Dixon sits down to write the letter to Caton asking for a specific publication date.

Chapter 9

Maconochie, the college porter, finds Dixon in the Common Room and asks him to take a phone call for Professor Welch, who is taking the day off. Dixon picks up the phone in the next room and hears Christine on the other end, calling to get information about Bertrand's whereabouts. Christine has an opportunity to set up the meeting between Bertrand and Gore-Urquhart for the coming weekend at the College Summer Ball, but can't locate Bertrand to tell him. Dixon claims not to know if Bertrand plans to attend the Summer Ball so as not to reveal to Christine that Bertrand is planning to escort Carol Goldsmith. Dixon suggests that Christine telephone Mrs. Welch, but Christine explains that she doesn't get along with Mrs. Welch. Dixon offers to telephone the Welch residence and get Professor Welch to call Christine back. Dixon and Christine spend several more minutes chatting. Just as Dixon hangs up, Johns comes in and Dixon wonders if he's been eavesdropping.

Dixon walks down the hallway back to the Common Room, where Michie overtakes him. Michie explains to Dixon that he likes the syllabus for Dixon's special subject, but that the three attractive female students, Miss O'Shaughnessy, Miss McCorquodale, and Miss ap Rhys, consider it too heavy. Dixon agrees to meet with the three girls and Michie the next morning to discuss the syllabus, and mentally resolves to further change it to attract the girls and discourage Michie.

From the phone in the Common Room, Dixon calls the Welch house and hears Mrs. Welch on the other end. Mrs. Welch recognizes Dixon's voice and begins asking him about the ruined sheets. Before she can finish, Dixon tells her that he is actually a reporter with the Evening Post, and that he is calling for Bertrand. Bertrand comes to the phone and Dixon continues with his charade, asking Bertrand questions about his artwork. Dixon ends up the conversation by pretending that Christine suggested the interview and mentions to Bertrand that he should telephone Christine that afternoon. Bertrand asks for his name, and Dixon calls himself Beesley. Dixon hangs up, overwhelmed but elated by his successful deception of Mrs. Welch and Bertrand. He calls Christine back to prepare her for Bertrand's phone call.

Analysis

When Welch calls Dixon into his office for a discussion, Dixon automatically assumes that he will be losing his job for one reason or another, and he is ultimately relieved that the issue of his job has been put off because he prepares only for the possibility that he will be let go. Dixon's pessimism affects how we see the greater workings of the novel. In a comedy, the reader can usually be sure that comic justice will be rendered at the end, and that the hero and heroine will win out and live happily ever after. However, the hero and heroine of Lucky Jim are not clearly identified, and any confidence we might feel that things will end well for Dixon is mitigated by Dixon's view of events.

Dixon's meeting with Margaret in the Common Room marks their second encounter in which Margaret enters their conversation extremely upset and Dixon manages to placate her by the end, this time by inviting her to the Summer Ball. In this meeting, Margaret's sadness and loneliness are presented as less artificial, making it harder for us to pass a negative judgment on her.

Dixon's agreement to phone the Welches Christine's behalf again makes them accomplices, and on both occasions their alliance is the result of Christine's "sinking" to Dixon's level of immature behavior. This collaboration also jumpstarts Dixon's campaign against Bertrand, thus beginning a new trend in Dixon's life wherein he makes things happen rather than simply watching them and commenting. Dixon's "anarchistic" burst of laughter after the Evening Post phone call highlights Dixon's newfound disregard for the long-term consequences of his actions.

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