British Soc & Mod Novs: Blog Post 4 (Lucky Jim)

Lucky Jim – Kingsley Amis (1954)

Blog posts due and presentation day: Monday, December 11

  • Group 7: Who are the worst people in the novel, and why?
  • Group 8: How does luck function in the novel?

Write a post here of two paragraphs (about 200 words) discussing Lucky Jim. Feel free to make your post a reply to someone else’s post if you like.

Choose one topic for your presentation or for online discussion or your paper. One topic per group. A narrow, focused discussion is usually more interesting.

  1. Do you like Dixon, or sympathize with him? Would you want him as a friend?
  2. Discuss Margaret or Christine. How do they influence or change Dixon?
  3. Welch seems strangely forgiving of Dixon’s actions. Is Welch a bad or good man, or is he just a little stupid?
  4. Discuss morality in the novel. Who are the worst people in the story?
  5. Amis has been accused of hating women– are his portrayals of women in the novel fair?
  6. What do you think is the funniest scene in the novel? Describe and discuss how Amis makes the scene funny.
  7. Do you think the novel satirizes universities or English society? How or why?
  8. Why is Jim Dixon lucky? (Or is he?)
  9. Does Dixon grow up throughout the novel, or change? How and why?
  10. Some critics believe the ending is contrived or unrealistic, that Dixon doesn’t deserve to be “saved” by Gore-Urquhart. Do you agree?

14 thoughts on “British Soc & Mod Novs: Blog Post 4 (Lucky Jim)

  1. JIWON JUNG

    Do you like Dixon, or sympathize with him? Would you want him as a friend?

    I sympathize with Dixon. I thought the character of Jim is not that far from the young these days. As for his job, he is a contract professor and kind of has to beg superior professor, Welch, to secure his position. Even though Jim does not like Welch, he needs to ingratiate himself with the old and annoying superior. In this point, I found it similar between Jim and the young who are about to start working. They cannot help following superiors’ words/rules though their thoughts are different and make points with their boss from time to time. Regarding the relationship with Margaret, the readers can easily figure out she keeps playing with Jim. In spite of Jim’s being aware of it, he cannot be over her because he likes her. Likewise, this sort of relationships is frequently seen, usually among young people.
    Would I want him as a friend? Maybe yes. I would be stressed out when hearing of his bad luck, but I would console him every time he had a hard time on his job and sometimes give him a nagging a lot, especially about the relationship with Margaret. When he gets another job in London and starts a new relationship with Christine in the end, I would congratulate him from the bottom of my heart.

  2. Suh Yujeong

    8. Why is Jim Dixon Lucky? (or is he?)

    I think Jim Dixon is a very lucky man because he gets a new job which Christine’s uncle, Gore-Urquhart, offers Dixon the job of his assistant in London and it was what Bertrand wants to get. Second, Dixon is rid of Margaret who uses emotional blackmail to him and leaves for London with Christine Callaghan.

    Dixon’s public lecture on Merrie England fails completely. So after his public lecture, Professor Welch says to Dixon that his employment will not be extended. It means that Dixon loses his job. However, Gore-Urquhart offers Dixon a job in London. For Dixon, it is really good thing because he does not have any passion toward his work, he does not like Professor Welch who is absent-minded, head of department, and he also does not like the university’s culture of arty pretentiousness.

    Moreover, at the end, Dixon finally escapes from Margaret who employs emotional blackmail to appeal to Dixon’s sense of duty and pity. Catchpole reveals that he was not Margaret’s fiancé as she had claimed and the suicide attempt was faked. Thus, Dixon and Christine decide to leave for London together.
    For these reasons, I assert that Jim Dixon is a lucky man. He gets a new job and Christine.

  3. JongHoon Park

    8.Why is Jim Dixon lucky? (Or is he?)

    I think that Jim Dixon is a lucky guy because he achieved two things: meeting someone he wanted to fall in love with, and finally getting another job. First, he made Christine his girlfriend. It is really a lucky event in that she was so young and beautiful that she was originally out of his league. Along the way, Jim had to conflict with Bertrand and cooperate with Carol. In addition, he had to eventually say goodbye to Margaret, who took advantage of his good heart. Christine sometimes even felt guilty because of the relationship between her and Bertrand, so it was a hard thing for her to go out with Jim.

    Next, Jim could get a new job instead of the history professor at the university, where Professor Welch is. Jim was always concerned about whether he was able to keep his job there and he also didn’t like Ned Welch. Probably it was really stressful and inconvenient for Jim to ask the same question to Ned Welch. But fortunately, right after he was discharged, he was offered another job by Gore-Urquhart, and the moment was obviously appropriate for him. Therefore, ‘Lucky Jim’ is a quite proper title for the entire story.

  4. Park Ye Jong

    Why is Jim Dixon lucky?

    Jim is definitely lucky because he does not punished that much even if he has very big mistakes. Even though he does not like Welch, Welch gives him nice treatment. When Jim’s class makes one student criticize the book which Welch’s student wrote, Welch does not blame Jim but he considers it was just a mistake. He burns Welch family’s bedroom, but it does not affect his job. Also, he has fist fight with Welch’s son; he does not be fired until he spoils the presentation.
    Ironically, horrible Welch’s family has a great help of Jim related to romance. He has a problem with Margaret because he wants to be out of her. However, by meeting Christine whom Bertrand brings into the party, Jim has opportunity to break up with Margaret. He falls in love with Christine and succeeds to be out of Margaret. Bertrand does not intend this story, however, it cannot be denied Bertrand indirectly provide Jim happy romance story. The most interesting point in this novel is even though Jim extremely hates Welch’s careless and inconsiderate; he is greatly owed by this Welch’s characteristic. In last scene, Welch does not care Christine’s train schedule and gives Christine wrong information. If he gives right information, Christine is on the right time then Jim and Christine cannot meet each other. Therefore, Jim’s happiness is owed by Welch family. That is why Jim is lucky.

  5. Kim Soyeon

    Jim is lucky. Although he is not qualified enough to be that much successful, he is a lucky one. First, Jim is not interested in everything around him. Therefore, he has no ‘responsibility’ for his job and work. Jim is a lazy professor who hates his subject and he is tired of teaching. He even does not teach well, so he is worried about keeping his job. In addition, although Welch helps him making end-of-the-term lecture for his career, Jim is not thankful to him and even thinks that Welch is bullying him. He also is a corrupted professor who has partiality for students. He only wants pretty girls to take his class, and he is not happy with Michie, his only one faithful student.
    Second, Jim is not a much better man than Bertrand. He plays double on Margaret and Christine. Jim says that Margaret is a troublesome X-girlfriend, but he tries to kiss her and thinks that he still is responsible for her health. He does not concentrate on Christine. In addition, he does not try to help or protect Christine who is in danger of being kicked out by the Welches. The one who always is helped by others is Jim. In this case, I think he is not different from Bertrand. Therefore, although Jim wants to be seen as a good man, he is not very different from Bertrand, a Casanova and a rowdy.

  6. Magali Le Corre

    While reading Lucky Jim, I had a hard time sympathizing with Dixon. Even though he seemed quite naïve and genuine in most of his actions, I saw him as a passive character. He seems to mostly put up with his life and all the issues that happen to him. Even if he does not like his life, it does not look like he is trying a lot to change it. He does not seem to realize the impact of his actions most of the time, and do not really take the time to think.
    Moreover, I do think that what happens to him is mostly luck, more than him working hard to change his boring life. Somewhat, his bad behavior and actions in most scenes bring out some sort of luck because things are changing at the end. But it seems that the others are making changes for him, instead of Dixon himself. I would not want him as a friend, because I feel like he would be that friend that you need to look for because of his actions, and that you would have to always check on and that would need your help to fix things all the time. But I do think that he grows through all those (un)fortunate events which result in him finally being happy.

  7. ChangWan Oh

    Discuss Margaret or Christine. How do they influence or change Dixon?

    Margaret influenced very much to Dixon. Jim was in her cage before he met Catchpoll. She tried to control Dixon by telling a lie to him. Jim must help her because she is his friend and he had sympathy to her. She pretended to suicide because the relationship with Catchpoll didn’t become what she wanted. Jim was ordered to be kind to Margaret by her. When they fought each other, she surprised him by doing having a seizure intentionally. She made him feel responsibility about her.

    After Dixon met Christine, he changed a lot. Jim was a passive person but he changed to an active person because he fell in love to her. He tried to obtain her love by telling lies to help her, stealing booked taxi, and running to catch the bus. Because of her, he can become free from Margaret. He also became a challenging person. He tried doing something dangerous such as fighting against Bertrand, original Christine’s boyfriend. Although he is Welch’s son so Dixon may be damaged to his own job, he took a risk to get Christine as his girlfriend. Finally, his changed attitude made him lucky because he got a job and Christine.

  8. Minji Kim

    1. Why is Jim Dixon lucky? (Or is he?)
    I think this can be a very contradictable topic. Since he has been through a lot of downturns and upturns. To me, he seems like all the small bad things happen first then big luck compensates the bad one. Overall, he seems like a miserable person because he confronts a lot of small bad luck. But the reason we see this way is somehow caused by his attitude. He grumbles a lot for what is actually nothing, like three pretty students are not taking his class. We look at him in his perspective so we lose objectivity when seeing his life.

    But when we think of his life carefully, he is a very lucky one. He gets what is the most important for him at the end. First, a new job he wanted so badly and Christine. It seems kind of unfair because he was not a responsible professor who mistreated his enthusiastic student, Michie, and ruined his big history lecture. He insulted his job, his university and his students. But he gets a good job at the end.

    Everybody undergoes small misfortune in their days, like Jim. But not everyone gets what they want at the end like Jim. So he is a lucky guy.

  9. Minwoo Kim

    10. Some critics believe the ending is contrived or unrealistic, that Dixon doesn’t deserve to be “saved” by Gore-Urquhart. Do you agree?

    No, I do not agree with this criticism. I think there is no reason that the Gore-Urquhart does not like Dixon. Then, what is a qualification that the Dixon can be saved? The flows of connection are natural for ‘Lucky Jim’. Dixon really hates Welch and his son, Bertrand because they are so pretentious, boring and selfish. But, he has no choice but to flatter them, he has no power to overcome the Welch’s and Margaret’s oppression. (He is just pulled by them.) At first, He gives an impression as if he is the most unlucky and pathetic character in this novel. However, since he meets Chrisitine, there are signs of change. (change of situation from unlucky to lucky)

    He feels some subtle attraction of Christine and loves her although he sometimes gets into a deep water by Margaret. Sometimes, he fights against Bertrand, Christine’s boyfriend and becomes more honest(frank) as the story goes on. Gore-Urquhart becomes aware of Bertrand’s incompetence, insidiousness and indifference to his niece. Probably, he likes the people who are expressing frankly rather than concealing true intentions. And his job is to deal with and treat people, he can notice these two characters more easily and sets the value Dixon higher than Bertrand. In this novel, the family background and status don’t matter. It is not strange or unrealistic at all, that the Gore-Urquhart saves Dixon.

  10. Yena Lee

    7. Do you think the novel satirizes universities or English society? How or why?

    I believe the novel satirizes universities and it reflects the reality of the young people in South Korea.

    Dixon teaches medieval history as a contract lecturer. The reason why he studied medieval history was not he was interested in it. However, there were not many people who studied medieval history and it is an easygoing study. The novel satirizes people or students who study their majors not for their dreams, or interests but for getting jobs or by their grades in universities. In addition, I do not think Dixon is a hard working and diligent person. His life seems like following a stream without doing his best. What he pursues is to drink, smoke, and meet some girls. To gossip at bar and smoke are the only things that he can do to escape his surroundings for a while, and to release his stress. It also describes situations of people who are under the dominant group.

    Moreover, it reflects the the reality of the people in society (especially in South Korea, I guess). People always worries to lose their jobs and look for a steady job as Dixon. They walk on eggshells around people who are in a superior position to them. In addition, they are trying to look good, and pretend to be a generous person even if they are not or they hate their boss.

  11. Jeongeun Lee

    1. Some critics believe the ending is contrived or unrealistic, that Dixon doesn’t deserve to be “saved” by Gore-Urquhart. Do you agree?

    It is true that Gore-Urquhart saves Dixon by offering a new job and giving an opportunity for Dixon to escape his misfortune backgrounds-working under the boss he does not really like, teaching student without passion, and having reluctant relationship with Margaret. Dixon is finally able to escape from all of these and develop new relationships with new people who seem to understand him better.
    It might seem eligible to say that some of Dixon’s actions are not good enough to get a happy ending, but I think he really deserves what he gets at the ending- a job and a girlfriend. In the story, there are two types of people. One is those who manipulates others and do not know how to elaborate on true relationship; the other is those who do not conceal themselves and truly engage in relationship. Margaret, Prof. Welch, and Bertrand are the former, and Dixon, Christine, and Gore-Urquhart are the latter. Especially, the protagonist Dixon shows very honest inner thoughts and never lies for his own behalf. He does make some mean jokes, but never means to harm others. Margaret is manipulating Dixon, pretending she is the girlfriend or something and this is the most immoral thing to me, playing with one’s heart; Professor Welch does not consider any feelings of Dixon, making order for his own good; and Bertrand, needless to say, is a snob. Compared to these characters, Dixon reveals his sincere affection to Christine, and knows how to admit his faults, for example to Mrs. Welch. I think this suggests very clear contrast to the people in the former type I mentioned. To conclude, Dixon, who honestly shows how he feels and perceive the situation to people, demonstrates how sincere and innocent he is. I think even though the ending could seem a little unrealistic and absurd, it is not to say Dixon does not deserve what he gets.

  12. Ahn Min Jeong

    Do you like Dixon, or sympathize with him? Would you want him as a friend?
    I like Dixon and sympathize with him because he looks like me. Although he is not so much moral person, I think he should be sympathized by others. He is a very passive and weak person. He is a junior lecturer, so he is always worried about being fired from his job. Also, his friend, Margaret wants to control him. However, Dixon always felt sorry to her that he wasn’t care for her. It makes him more sympathized because he was too kind to her. In my case, I am very self-conscious and often worried about being expelled out of social groups. Also, I am often controlled by others and often felt sorry to them. Therefore, I think I and Dixon have common features and I like him.
    I would like to be his friend like Christine. After he fell in love with her, he was changed. While he loves her, he became brave and active person. Even he fought with Bertrand, Christine’s boyfriend, for her. Even if it was not moral action, he did for her. Also, after he fell in love with her, he can avoid Margaret’s trap. Therefore, I want to be a friend like Christine to Dixon.

  13. Seol Hanbin

    2.Discuss Margaret or Christine. How do they influence or change Dixon?

    Margaret tamed Dixon. Their relationship is quite unclear. They did not announce that they are couple but they sometimes look like lovers and sometimes friends as well. Without defining their relationship precisely, they find each other when they need. But does dixon love her? Does Dixon really need her? It seems like he does but he doesn’t. He is just manipulated by Margaret as she wants. Margaret makes him delude himself into loving Margaret and depend on Margaret. Margaret’s tongue was powerful to Dixon. It was like a spell. So Dixon becomes a person who don’t know what he really wants. Margaret makes Dixon passive person. Dixon sometimes wants to escape from Margaret but he fails to do that because he is already accustomed to that relationship and Margaret. He can’t give up his role that Margaret assigned. He is already tamed at her. Futhermore, she uses her effeminateness. Like it turns out that she pretended to overdose sleeping pills, she holds her delicate constitution as a hostage. So, Dixon can’t leave her really, since she is likely to collapse so soon. He feels responsible for Margaret. But in fact Margaret designed this. Margaret makes Dixon feel responsible for her and feel guilty so that Dixon do not run away from her, although it decisively works in the opposite direction in the end. Margaret wanted a never growing man suited for her.

    Unlike Margaret, Christine doesn’t manipulate Dixon at all, because Christine is a healthy and attractive woman. She is neither unfulfilled nor weak. So she doesn’t have reason to control Dixon and lock him in her side. What is important to her is what she wants and what she feels. After met Margaret, Dixon has gradually changed like Christine. He lives his life actively by thinking himself and making tricks on people by his own intention. Christine’s presence is a luck to Dixon but his decision not to lose Christine is not a luck but his will. Christine made him realize what Dixon wants, and the only thing Dixon wanted was Christine.

  14. Aniqah Syairah Ruslan

    Welch seems strangely forgiving of Dixon’s actions. Is Welch a bad or good man, or is he just a little stupid?

    Personally for me, I do not view Welch as a bad man. I think Amis purposefully wrote Welch in a bad light from Jim’s point of view for very specific reasons. One can argue that Welch is written that way to purposefully emphasized Jim’s current situation regarding his luck.
    From the beginning of the novel, Jim sees Welch as a bad character who always pushes him out of his comfort zone. For example, asking Jim to sing during his party or telling him to present a lecture on Merrie England. For the first example I have mentioned above, one can easily view his actions negatively. However, I think he does not do this purposefully, but rather he is doing it purely for his love of music. He is rather absent-minded, so he did not consider Jim’s feelings in these situations. But he cannot be classified as a bad guy just for these thoughtless and tactless acts. Towards the end of the novel, Jim also realized that Welch is rather a nice guy who is kind to Jim.

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