Comic novel; campus novel; satire

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.


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.




A university in the English countryside in the late 1940s or early 1950s


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

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.


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.