Jim Dixon, the protagonist of the novel, works as a teacher of history at English provincial university. He teaches there the first year and may not be credited to the constant position, and passes at the moment a probationary period. But he makes a bad impression on his colleagues from the very beginning. On the first days of his stay at the faculty, he manages to injure the Professor of English. Coming out of the library, Dixon sees a small round pebble lying on the sidewalk, and he kicks it, and it, of course, meets on its way a knee of a professor. Dixon should apologize, but he instead is watching the flight of the stone, and then slowly walks away. He has no guts to apologize - as always in such cases. It does not take more than two days after the incident, as at the first meeting of the faculty, passing the chair of the archivist, he stumbles and knocks the chair just at the moment when the old man was about to sit on it. Then Dixon criticizes the work of one of the students, and then he finds out that this study was written with the blessing and on the advice of Professor Welch, who determines Dixon’s fate, for it is Welch to decide to remain Dixon to teach at the university or not.