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Lucky Jim

Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas 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