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The narrative of Lucky Jim centers on the thoughts and feelings of Jim Dixon, an unremarkable young man about to complete his first year as an assistant lecturer in the Department of History at a provincial college in Britain. Intolerant of the pretension and hypocrisy of the college's faculty and their families, Jim hides his contempt, channeling it into venomous mental outbursts and a wide array of nasty faces. Dixon can be clumsy and careless, and even sneaky and mean to those he truly hates, but is genuine and compassionate as well.
Read an in-depth analysis of Jim Dixon.
Margaret Peel holds a slightly higher post than Jim Dixon at the same college. Margaret and Dixon are close, and Margaret imagines that she knows Dixon better than anyone else. Margaret is not very attractive and tries to compensate for this by wearing arty clothing and too much make-up. Margaret has her moments of straightforward discussion with Dixon, but can just as quickly become clingy, condescending, or aggressive. She takes advantage of Dixon's good-natured concern for her to keep him in a relationship, and even fakes a suicide attempt to attract the concern of either Dixon or Catchpole.
Read an in-depth analysis of Margaret Peel.
Bertrand Welch is the eldest of Professor Welch's two sons. Bertrand lives in London, where he has begun a career as a painter. Bertrand presents himself as cultured, witty, and cosmopolitan, which usually translates into a kind of elitism. Bertrand looks up to the rich and very definitely considers Dixon to be below him. Bertrand hopes to get a job with Christine's uncle, Gore- Urquhart, as the wealthy patron's personal assistant. Bertrand plans to marry Christine in a couple of years, even though he is currently having an affair with Carol Goldsmith.
Christine Callaghan lives in London, and dates Bertrand for most of the novel. Christine's family seems to have money—her uncle is the rich Gore-Urquhart—but Christine herself works in a bookshop and wears the same outfit every time Dixon sees her. Christine can come off as prissy and prim, but truly enjoys Dixon's predicaments and laughs unabashedly. Christine is very good-looking and presents herself well, leading Dixon to believe at first that she would never date a man such as himself.
Read an in-depth analysis of Christine Callaghan.
Professor Welch seems to have been holding his job for quite some time. He is an absent-minded man who rambles on about old English music, the recorder, and children's artwork, not noticing whether or not his audience cares. Welch is certainly not malicious, but he is an extremely bad driver due his general lack of awareness to things around him. He and his wife have some social pretensions, and they often try to attract the local press to musical events at their house. Professor Welch believes that things were better in the old days, and wishes he could go back to his sentimentalized ideal of the period in English history when everyone made their own music and artwork.
Mrs. Welch seems to be the driving force behind her husband's social ambition. Mrs. Welch accompanies the musical parties held at her house on the piano. She is unwilling to forgive Dixon for anything.
Cecil Goldsmith is Dixon's officemate and a senior lecturer in the History Department at the college. Carol Goldsmith is in her forties and is having an affair with Bertrand Welch, which she has told her husband about. Dixon considers Carol to be an ally of his, as she is good at turning people's statements back on them and speaks frankly. Dixon is also impressed by her "femaleness," which seems mostly to consist of her ability to admit she enjoys sex. The Goldsmiths are friends with Dixon and Margaret, as well as with the Welches.
Bill Atkinson is an insurance salesman who lives in Dixon's house and is a drinking friend of Dixon's. Dixon admires Atkinson for the power and style of Atkinson's contempt for pretty much everything around him. He is a man of few words and Miss Cutler, the housekeeper, seems afraid of him.
Beesley holds a similar position to Dixon, but in the college's English Department. Beesley and Dixon are drinking friends and often walk to college together. Beesley takes his career and work more seriously than Dixon.
Evan Johns lives in Dixon's house and is a staff member at the college. Johns plays the oboe at Professor Welch's amateur musical concerts. Johns sucks up to the Welches and likes to tell on Dixon to Mrs. Welch.
Michie is a junior history student at the college. He takes his schooling seriously and appears to know a lot about history. He is particularly interested in Dixon's special subject course, to be taught in the next year.
Miss Cutler runs the boardinghouse that Dixon lives in. She is a stereotypical housekeeper.
Caton never actually appears in the novel, but does speak to Dixon over the phone. Caton is a shady academic who accepts Dixon's article for his new academic journal, then steals it and publishes it in Italian under his own name, winning him a position as a department chair at a university in Argentina.
Professor Barclay is a Professor of Music at the college. Dixon likes Barclay, who helps Dixon out with material for Dixon's "Merrie England" lecture. Barclay's biggest appearance in the novel comes when Dixon steals the taxi the Professor Barclay and his wife have called to take them home from the Summer Ball.
The Principal of the college is a small, bald-headed man, with a cackling laugh. Dixon accidentally imitates his notably clipped, consonantal accent when Dixon gives his lecture.
Miss O'Shaughnessy, Miss McCorquodale, and Miss ap Rhys are the three prettiest female students in the history department. Miss O'Shaughnessy is Michie's girlfriend. Dixon tries to attract the three women to take his special subject course next fall, and to discourage Michie at the same time.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Lucky Jim!