Chapter 6

Dixon wakes up in the morning with a tremendous hangover. He soon realizes that he fell asleep while smoking and has burned large holes in the bedsheets as well as in the rug and the table. Without thinking, Dixon cuts the burnt sections out of the bedsheets with his razor. He also begins to think about how to plan an escape from the Welches' even earlier than he had previously planned. He attempts to put a call through to Atkinson, asking Atkinson to phone earlier than previously planned so that Dixon can escape before the damaged sheets are discovered. Dixon waits on the telephone for a half-hour, however, without ever reaching an operator. Frustrated, he proceeds into the breakfast- room, where he finds Christine eating breakfast.

Dixon quickly apologizes to her for his behavior the previous evening. Christine listens with intermittent fascination and haughtiness to Dixon's description of his night at the pub. During their conversation Dixon again notices Christine's beauty, as well as her large, unabashed appetite, and her laugh, which is less musical than he expects.

Suddenly, Dixon remembers his bedsheets and explains the source of his panic to Christine. She agrees to have a look at the sheets and try to help conceal the damage. Christine's enthusiasm for hiding the damaged sheets from Mrs. Welch suggests to Dixon that she may not be so prim after all. Watching Christine from the other side of his bed, Dixon feels anguished that she is so far out of his league. Christine goes out to the hallway to signal Dixon when it is safe for him to remove the burnt table. Dixon brings the table out, laughing with Christine, when Margaret suddenly throws open her bedroom door and asks Dixon what is going on.

Chapter 7

Dixon tries sheepishly to explain the situation to Margaret while Christine attempts suppresses her laughter. Christine breaks into the conversation to suggest that they take care of the table. When Dixon returns from hiding the table in a room down the hall, Christine has left and Margaret is waiting for him. He explains to her about the fire, and is surprised when Margaret does not laugh at the story, and instead expresses her disgust at Dixon's handling of the situation and her dislike of Christine. Dixon explains to Margaret that Margaret is the one butting in and instantly regrets this tactic.

Margaret theatrically displays hurt and then reproves Dixon further for his behavior the night before. As Margaret's distress rises, Dixon begins to panic. He eventually breaks in to speak, and Margaret becomes quiet and, finally, decides to return to bed. Bertrand calls out from downstairs that Dixon has a telephone call, which Dixon takes in the drawing-room. Dixon speaks idly with Atkinson on the phone for several minutes, then hangs up and begins to tell the group that he must leave immediately to meet his parents, who've unexpectedly arrived in town. Before he can finish, Margaret and Johns come into the drawing-room. In the ensuing chatter, Dixon slips out with hurried explanations.

Analysis: Chapters 6 & 7

The opening of Chapter 6 continues to make Dixon's choices and actions seem more like bad luck than bad choices. Dixon has fallen asleep with a lit cigarette the night before and wakes up to find the damage he's caused to his room, but the language of these passages makes him seem more like a victim than the cause of the fire. Dixon's hangover is not described as the consequence of having drunk too much the night before, but instead as the result of "being expertly beaten up by the secret police" during the night. When Dixon finds the damage, he wonders if he is fully responsible. Thus, the language invites the theme of bad luck and also exploits the comic incongruity of what Dixon remembers doing with what Dixon has done.

Dixon's early-morning encounter with Christine in this chapter allows him to study her more closely. He notices some more human aspects of her that somewhat crack the facade of her aloof beauty, like her slightly irregular teeth, her unmusical laugh, and her very healthy appetite. These imperfections, oddly enough, increase Dixon's agitation over Christine. While she previously seemed like a woman deserving only of long-distance appreciation because she was so obviously unattainable, Christine now seems much closer to Dixon. Her fascination about his drinking escapades, her sense of humor over his predicament with the bedsheets and her willingness to conspire with him in deceiving Mrs. Welch are combined to send Dixon into a near-frenzy of disappointment. Not only is Christine someone Dixon thinks he could never have, but she is now someone whom Dixon suspects he might want, and for reasons other than her beauty.

Margaret's appearance and disapproving attitude upon finding Dixon and Christine sneaking around in the hall with the table serves to solidify the allegiance between Dixon and Christine. Christine stifles her laughter because the censorious Margaret cannot be included in the joke, and Margaret's attitude forces Dixon into taking sides between the two women. Although Dixon does initially take Christine's side, when Margaret changes tactics and becomes dramatically upset, Dixon reverts to his previous guilt and sides with Margaret instead. The language of the narration underlines Margaret's phoniness and her conscious adoption of different female roles.