There is more than a touch of the picaresque rogue in Jim Dixon. Jim perpetrates a succession of practical jokes, tricks, and deceptions on other characters in the novel, especially those who offend his democratic sensibility.
He has a talent for "pulling faces" and projecting voices gestures Amis uses to enhance Jim's social commentary. He is sometimes aided and abetted in his roguery by his fellow boarder, the salesman Bill Atkinson.
On campus, in addition to Welch, Johns, and Margaret, Jim is seen interacting with certain female students to whom he is attracted and with Mr. Michie, an ardent overachiever who keeps pushing Jim to provide him with the syllabus for Jim's honors tutorial.
Off campus, Jim meets Christine Callaghan and eventually steals her away from Bertrand Welch. Through Christine he meets her uncle Julius GoreUrquhart, a wealthy entrepreneur and critic who hires Jim as his personal secretary. Themes
As in all good comedy, the theme of this book is the difference between appearance and truth, between illusion and reality. The theme plays itself out through the conventional concerns of romantic love. Jim is caught between the falsity of Margaret Peel and the freshness of Christine Callaghan. He is caught between one job, the future of which involves kowtowing to Welch until he becomes an historical fossil like his superior, and another job the prospect of which offers a supportive employer and interesting work. Amis projects Jim through a series of complications during the course of which the author critiques the stodginess of England's moribund social system. The obligatory happy ending is fulfilled when Jim ends up with the proper woman and the proper work.
Lucky Jim is a conventional novel; its narration is third person, its development is chronological, and its style is a conventional mixture of dialogue and description. The characterizations are clearly and sharply drawn. The novel abounds in...
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