Sunday, 1 March 2015

Evans "The Break", tries an O Level , and has the last laugh!

Reflecting on the story, Evans tries an 0 level, one can’t help accepting that it was Evans who had the last laugh! He had pitched himself against the whole prison establishment and emerged the victor! Everyone, Jackson, the senior prison officer, his subordinate, Stephens, the Governor of H.M. Prison, Oxford, of them were fooled by this clever and witty prison inmate!
Jackson and Stephens were taken on a ride by Evans in spite of their diligence. Evans was able to identify their ‘human weaknesses’ and he exploited it to devise a clever scheme for walking out of the prison, literally escorted by non-other than a prison officer! For the first half hour, Stephens peeps through the peep-hole looking at Evans hard at work on the German paper, presenting the ‘evil eye’ at regular intervals. Gradually he tires and lets down his guard. Evans knows that Regularity of habit is the greatest weakness that a captive can find in his captors. It is this regularity and subsequent boredom in Stephens that he exploits to make a change of costumes, taking from the fake Mc.Leary the minister’s costume. Besides being slaves to routine and regularity, Jackson and Stephens were too familiar with Evans and as such there was a soft corner in their minds for Evans. The unnecessary banter that they have with him before the exam exposes the weaknesses they have. One needs to maintain a professional distance, especially where it is the question of keeping a watchful eye on prisoners. Familiarity exposes one's weaknesses which can then be exploited by unscrupulous and scheming people like Evans.
It goes without saying that Evans preys on human weaknesses, emotions, and perceptions to make good his escape from the prison. The way he does it can only leave the reader chuckling! Evans depends on the impact that the sight of blood on his head would have on Stephens - the less experienced of the two prison guards assigned to him. Evans is a clever person who understands how perceptions and emotions can be exploited in order to sway rational judgment. Like a big fool, Stephens lets shock, bewilderment, and irrationality cloud his rational judgment and jumps to the conclusion that it is McLeary who is is bleeding and not Evans under the guise of McLeary! Yes, Evans does play with human perceptions, especially by getting under the skin of people and working on their minds, playing mind games, fretting and chewing away at rationality so that he gets them to look at the wrong picture rather than the obvious. The sight of blood and the matted hair on the head is so dramatic that it draws the viewer's attention away from what is obvious. The first thing that the observer would think is, Oh, goodness, that is a head injury, it must be McLeary, after all why would McLeary attack Evans?
Evans fools the two prison officers, Jackson and Stephens, the Governor of the prison and also  Deputy Superintendent Carter through his excellent impersonation of the Revd. S.McLeary. The added impact of the photocopied sheet that had been attached to the blank page in the question paper. The message on the page leads everyone on a wild goose and reinforces their impression that Evans had attacked the cleric, the words read, ‘Don’t hit him too hard’. When the Deputy Superintendent arrives, the bleeding man offers to lead them to Evans, and off they go, Carter and Evans on a wild goose chase to Elsefield Way, chasing an imaginary Evans, who they don’t know is sitting the policeman's car! The manner in which Evans gets off the car supposedly to get his wounds looked at and then disappears from under the very nose of Mr. Carter is something that will bring a smile on the reader's lips!
The Governor himself thought he was smart enough to handle ‘Evans the break’'!’ The Governor is a slave to processes which include placing a microphone in Evans’ cell, assigning two prison officers to him, placing Evans in D-Wing, separated by two doors, all processes bereft of straightforward, level-headed thinking! The Governor’s smartness was the very thing that Evans took advantage of. After he comes to know that there was no one by the name of Evans at the Radcliff hospital, the Governor gets the chit of paper mentioning the Golden Lion Hotel, and it includes the coordinates of the location. This is exactly the effect that Evans was expecting, that the Governor would become so overcome by his smartness that he would believe the information was genuine. In fact, this information had been planted in order to stoke the Governor and make him let down his guard. In the meantime, the prison van arrive. Who had asked for it, well, the Governor doesn’t even think of it. Little does he know that it had been arranged for by Evan’s Confederates!
It was planned that the Governor should apprehend Evans at the Golden Lion hotel, thus letting down his guard once again, and allowing to be taken to the prison in the prison van that had been commandeered by Evans’ own friends.  The two prime mistakes that the Governor had made was not to have permitted Evans to leave in Mr. Carter’s car, and secondly never to have let Evans out of his sight, even if it meant taking his car, rather than the prison van!
Yes, Evans does have the last laugh having fooled a whole prison set up, and even the police department as represented by Carter. The final act of foolishness of the Governor in letting Evans go by the prison van proves that the Governor was, ‘just another good-for-a-giggle, gullible governor’! In this battle of wits, it is the criminal who gets away, for the basic fact that he is a better judge of human character, and that he is able to prey on the apprehensions, irrationalities, and sense of confidence that makes the keepers of law let down their guard. It is about playing on perceptions, pampering egos, and then making good one's escape!
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