Christine and Dixon agree at tea that they will each do the "right thing" and honor their attachments to Bertrand and Margaret, respectively. However, the outcome, even though it was what he had planned, is unsatisfying to Dixon, and he takes refuge by being passive about things. Dixon reasons that it is no use wishing that Margaret had been born with Christine's looks, because then Margaret wouldn't have turned out to be Margaret at all, but presumably someone like Christine. This time, however, Dixon is less compassionate toward those with bad luck. He reasons that Margaret is the victim of bad luck, but that does not make him feel any more compassionate toward her.

With the opening of Chapter 20, Dixon's acceptance of his degraded situation seems complete. The text of his "Merrie England" lecture seems to come straight out of Welch's mouth, and subscribes to the very class dynamic that Dixon has been resisting for the entire novel. To top this off, Bertrand comes to Dixon's room to yell at him for pursuing Christine, and to claim Christine, and all women like her, as his birthright. The writer and scholar David Lodge points out, however, that this moment, when Dixon's fortunes hit rock-bottom, is also the first moment in the text where Dixon's thoughts match Dixon's actions. Instead of thinking something scathing about Bertrand and keeping it to himself, Dixon finally articulates devastating insults, and even knocks his rival down. That Dixon's fortunes are looking up is confirmed by the entrance of Michie, who now display a respect for the victorious Dixon that he has not during any of their student-teacher conversations.