Evans Tries an O-level by Colin Dexter depicts how a young prisoner called James Evans befools all the officers of the prison to escape under a well laid out plan. Despite all precautions of the prison authorities, Evans is able to escape.
Important Question and Answers
Q. What kind of person was Evans? Why did he want to sit for O-level German examination?
Ans. Evans was considered a pleasant sort of chap by the prison authorities. They called him ‘Evans the Break’ because of his prior attempts to escape from the prison. He was a congenital kleptomaniac. Evans wanted to sit for the O-level German examination because he saw it as another opportunity to escape from the prison.
Q. Who was Carter? What did the Governor ask him to do?
Ans. Carter was Detective Superintendent. The Governor asked him to take McLeery with him and follow Evans in the direction as told by McLeery.
Q. What did the Detective Superintendent inform the Governor about Evans?
Ans. Superintendent Carter informed the Governor that McLeery had spotted Evans driving off along Elsfield Way. They had got the number of the car all right. They had given a chase immediately, but they had lost him at the Headington roundabout. He assumed that Evans must have doubled back into the city.
Q. What were the content of the small brown suitcase that McLeery carried?
Ans. The small brown suitcase, which Reverend McLeery carried, contained all that he would require for his morning duties, including a sealed question paper envelop, a yellow invigilation form, a special authentication card from the Examination Board, a paper knife, a Bible and a current copy of the Church Times.
Q. How did the Governor react to the two phone calls he received in quick succession?
Ans. The two phone calls the Governor received in quick succession made him suspect that the calls might be fake, that it might be some kind of signal or a secret message. To be completely sure, he dialed the Exam Board number. However, he heard beeps of an engaged line.
Q. Why did Evans not take off his hat when Jackson ordered him to do so?
Ans. Evans did not take off his hat when Jackson ordered him to do so because according to Evans it was his lucky Charm. However in reality he wanted to hide his cropped hair so that he could pass off as McLeery. Also, keeping his hat on would hide his plan to escape.
Q. What precautions did the authorities take for the smooth conduct of the O-level examination?
Ans. Fearing that Evans might escape, the exam was conducted in Evans’ prison cell itself. It was installed with a microphone so that the Governor could listen to every talk. The cell was fully checked by the staff who took away anything that could Answers pose a threat. Moreover, the staff was put on high alert, doors and gates were locked. Prison officer Stephens was to peep into Evans’ cell after every few minutes. The parson who came to invigilate, was frisked at the prison gate and his briefcase was checked thoroughly.
Q. Which article in McLeery’s suitcase played perhaps the most significant role in Evans’ escape and how?
Ans. The most significant article in McLeery’s suitcase was the rubber tube, which he said he required to sit on since he was suffering from piles. In reality, the rubber tube contained pig blood. Evans was going to disguise as Rev. McLeery and pretend to be injured and bleeding. It was a strategy to help Evans escape from the prison.
Q. How did the Governor, Oxford Prison describe Evans to the Secretary, Examination Board?
According to the Governor what kind of person was Evans?
What opinion of Evans did the prison authorities convey to the Secretary, Education Board?
Ans. The Governor gave quite a satisfactory report about Evans to the Secretary of the Board. It was stated that Evans had no record of violence and that he was quite a ‘pleasant sort of chap’. He also said that Evans was one of the stars at the Christmas concert. However, he suffered from a weakness, he was just a congenital kleptomaniac.
Q. What was his German teacher’s opinion of Evans’ proficiency in German?
Ans. According to Evans’ German teacher, his language ability was not quite up to the mark, in fact, it was doubtful. Evans could not even understand basic pleasantries in German.
Q. Why did ‘Rev. McLeery’ bring a rubber ring with him to the prison?
Ans. Rev. McLeery brought a rubber ring with him to the prison for an important reason. Although he told the prison guards that the ring was for him to sit on (due to his piles), the ring contained pig blood, which would eventually help Evans to escape from the prison. Since, there was no other way to carry the blood into the examination room, it was carried in the rubber ring.
Q. How did Evans have the last laugh at the Governor?
Ans. Evans already had a well thought out plan B in case his initial plan failed. When the Governor recaptured Evans and handed him over to the silent prison officer, the Governor was unaware that the officer as well as the driver of prison van were actually Evans’ accomplices. As Evans finally escaped, he had the last laugh at the Governor.
Q. Jackson went through the contents of Rev. McLeery’s suitcase. Which object therein puzzled him sorely? What was his comment on that?
Ans. While Jackson went through the contents of Rev. McLeery’s suitcase, the object, which puzzled him the most was the semi-inflated rubber tube. Seeing the rubber tube there Jackson asked the Reverend whether he was thinking of going for a swim.
Q. What could the Governor have done to securely bring Evans back to the prison from the ‘Golden Lion’?
Ans. To bring Evans securely back to the prison from the Golden Lion, the Governor could have brought the police force with him from the prison itself. Alternatively, he could have travelled in the van himself with Evans to take him to the prison. The Governor should have been more vigilant and checked the credentials of the officials escorting him to the prison.
Q. Which important call did the Governor receive when the examination was going on?
Ans. When the examination was going on, the Governor received two important phone calls. The first call was from the University regarding a correction slip, which was not sent with the question paper. The second call was supposedly from the magistrate’s office requesting for a van and two prison officers.
Q. Describe the precautions taken by the prison officers to prevent Evans from escaping.
What precautions were taken by the prison authorities to ensure that the German exam was conducted smoothly and also under strict security?
Ans. During Evans’ O-Level German test, special precautions were taken by the prison staff to prevent him from escaping. The test was scheduled to be taken in his own cell. A parson from St. Mary Mags was called to invigilate and to keep the prisoner incommunicado during the exam. Evans was placed in the heavily guarded Recreational Block. There were two locked doors between his cell and the yard, which boasted of a high wall. Moreover, all the prison officers were on high alert. The Governor got a microphone installed in Evans’ cell, while Stephens kept peeping into the cell every few minutes. Two prison officers, Mr. Jackson and Mr. Stephens, thoroughly checked his cell for any sign of possible escape. His razor, nail filer and nail scissors were also taken away.
Q. It was sheer negligence on the part of the prison staff that helped Evans to escape. Comment.
Ans. Even after taking various drastic precautions, for the smooth conduct of the exam, Evans fools the Governor and the prison authority in every step of the way. Stephens notices that Evans is wearing a hat but does not ask him to remove it. The hat concealed Evans’ cropped hair. Similarly, the prison staff do not check McLeery’s identity or verify the phone call or recognise Evans impersonating McLeery. All this helps him to escape prison easily. Later, though the Governor is able to catch him red-handed, at the capital, Evans escapes once again, this time audaciously in the prison van. Therefore, it proves that it is sheer negligence on the part of the prison staff that helps Evans to escape.
Q. Give a character-sketch of the Governor of Oxford Prison based on your understanding of the story, ‘Evans Tries an O-Level’.
Ans. The Governor of the Oxford prison was a kind-hearted man, who requested the Secretary of the Examination board to allow Evans to appear for the O-level German Examination. He also seemed smart and efficient fellow, who, knowing that Evans had a tendency to escape prison, took every precaution to prevent that from happening. Yet, by the end of the story, he turned out to be a gullible man with qualities, which are ‘good-for-agiggle’. Never once he doubted Evans’ intentions of appearing for the test even though his German was very bad. The Governor’s men made sure that Evans was not left with anything sharp and informed him that the Governor himself would be listening to each and every conversation going on in the cell. In spite of that neither the Governor nor his men were able to stop Evans from escaping. In the end the Governor was able to catch hold of Evans because of his smart thinking and commendable investigating skills. However, his habit of leaving things on others caused Evans to escape his clutches yet again. Therefore, it is suffice to say that the Governor was alert on some occasions, but on others, quite negligent and over-confident man, with a bad judgment of character. It is for this reason, Evans was able to escape from his prison multiple times.
Q. How did the question paper and correction slip help the prisoner and the Governor?
Ans. The Governor received a call from the Assistant Secretary of the Examination Board saying that there was a correction slip, which was not attached to the question paper. He requested the Governor if he could read out the correction to Evans. The correction was ‘zum goldenen Lowen’. In reality, it was an indication informing Evans where he was supposed to go after escaping from jail. Although, the Governor did not suspect anything, the correction slip helped Evans to know the name of the hotel and its location. Later, when the Governor learned about Evans’ escape, Rev. McLeery (Evans in reality) showed him the question paper at the back of which, instructions were given to help Evans escape. These instructions were meant to misguide the jail authorities. However, the Governor was able to put together the index and centre numbers. With the six digit reference and the help of a survey map, the Governor came to know Evans had escaped to Chipping Norton. Now, the Governor could work out a plan to arrest Evans.
Q. How was ‘injured’ McLeery able to befool the prison officers?
Ans. An ‘injured’ McLeery was able to fool the prison officers easily because he was actually Evans dressed as parson, pretending to be Rev. McLeery. Evans was nicknamed ‘Evans the Break’ because earlier he had been able to escape prison thrice already. This time, he requested to appear for O-Level German Exam. The one who came to invigilate carried pig blood in a rubber tube. With the help of fake blood McLeery pretended to be bleeding profusely. He pretended to cover his ‘bleeding wound’ with a handkerchief. This was an opportunity for him to hide his face and since he was in so much pain be could not speak. To avoid being taken to the hospital, Evans (as McLeery) offered to help the officers track ‘Evans’, whom they thought had escaped. He even told them that ‘Evans’ had gone towards Elsfield Way. The Governor ordered McLeery to accompany Carter since he was the only one who knew everything that had happened. Thus, Evans (as McLeery) managed to leave the premises with Detective Superintendent Carter without anyone suspecting anything. An unsuspecting Detective Superintendent Carter dropped ‘McLeery’ at the Radcliffe hospital. However, when the Governor called the hospital, he was told that the injured McLeery had escaped.