Victory in To the Lighthouse most frequently occurs over life, but occasionally victory is scored over other people as well. The main point, however, is that victory occurs beneath the surface in To the Lighthouse and often in social interactions. Mrs. Ramsay scores a victory by not saying "I love you," yet Mr. Ramsay has never asked her to say it. On the surface they have a perfectly civilized conversation. Victory and defeat occur in the nuances of interaction, not in the overt way that, say, a world war encompasses victory and defeat.
James and Lily are the two most victorious characters at the end of the novel, although James’s victory rings hollow.