The Sense of an Ending

by

Julian Barnes

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Phil Dixon Character Analysis

The literature teacher at Tony’s school, Phil Dixon is a young, recent Cambridge grad whom the students adore. He uses the New Criticism method that involves sharing a poem with students without identifying information, and asking them to determine what it means devoid of any context. Phil Dixon becomes a model for the kind of dashing intellectual that Tony would like to be: he repeats one of Dixon’s phrases about the poet Ted Hughes to Veronica once at university in order to impress her, though with little success.
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Phil Dixon Character Timeline in The Sense of an Ending

The timeline below shows where the character Phil Dixon appears in The Sense of an Ending. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
One
Sex, Class, and Power Theme Icon
Philosophy vs. Reality Theme Icon
...perhaps another day, the boys all attended English class taught by a young Cambridge grad, Phil Dixon , whom they adored. He used contemporary texts, addressed the students as “Gentlemen,” and once... (full context)
Memory, Manipulation, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
History, Narrative, and Truth Theme Icon
Phil Dixon handed out a poem with no identifying information and asked Adrian what the poem was... (full context)
History, Narrative, and Truth Theme Icon
Sex, Class, and Power Theme Icon
Philosophy vs. Reality Theme Icon
...developed through characters’ experience over time (or at least that was what they gleaned from Phil Dixon ). (full context)
Sex, Class, and Power Theme Icon
Philosophy vs. Reality Theme Icon
...his attempt to describe the character he wanted to become. He once fell back on Phil Dixon ’s line about everyone wondering what Ted Hughes will do when he runs out of... (full context)