Jasper Jones

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Mad Jack Lionel Character Analysis

A legendary resident of Corrigan who supposedly killed a woman years ago, Mad Jack Lionel is greatly feared by the adolescents and children of the town. Indeed, it’s a common test of courage to steal peach pits from the tree on his property. Toward the end of the novel, Charlie and Jasper discover that Jack is Jasper’s paternal grandfather. Jasper’s father, David, resented Jack for refusing to accept Rosie, his wife, for being Aboriginal. Later, Jack accidentally caused Rosie’s death by driving her to a hospital and getting into a bad car crash. As a result, David never tells Jasper that Jack is his grandfather. Charlie comes to see Jack as a sad, lonely man, worthy of his sympathy and compassion.

Mad Jack Lionel Quotes in Jasper Jones

The Jasper Jones quotes below are all either spoken by Mad Jack Lionel or refer to Mad Jack Lionel. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Fear Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Ember edition of Jasper Jones published in 2012.
Chapter 7 Quotes

I don’t know who this man is, but he didn’t kill anybody. I’ve done everything wrong. Mad Jack Lionel isn’t a criminal. He’s probably not even mad. He’s just old and sad and poor and lonely.

Related Characters: Charlie Bucktin (speaker), Mad Jack Lionel
Page Number: 241
Explanation and Analysis:

In this chapter, Jasper and Charlie go to confront "Mad" Jack Lionel, a grumpy old man, rumored to be a killer, who lives in the town. Jasper is confident that Jack murdered Laura Wishart--he thinks that by talking to Jack face-to-face, he'll be able to convince Jack to confess, clearing his own name in the process.

When Jasper and Charlie visit Jack, however, it quickly becomes clear that Jack 1) didn't kill Laura, and 2) isn't remotely as dangerous as he's rumored to be. Jack's reputation as a crazy, dangerous man is just another example of the townspeople's need for a scapegoat. Just as Charlie's neighbors bully Jeffrey and blame Jasper for everything, so too do they fear Jack. And Jasper, too eager to protect himself from being scapegoated by racist police officers, has accidentally been scapegoating Jack himself.

Here, Charlie begins to realize that Jasper isn't always the clever, confident leader he's pretended to be: on the contrary, he's just a lonely, frightened kid, way out of his depth. Charlie, on the other hand, discovers new levels of bravery and empathy here. Because he tries to understand and sympathize with other people, he has an easier time than Jasper realizing that Jack isn't Laura's murderer, and in fact isn't frightening at all.

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We’d gone to confront Mad Jack Lionel about murdering Laura Wishart only to find that he was driving the car that killed Jasper’s mother. The world isn’t right. It’s small and it’s nasty and it’s lousy with sadness. Under every rock, hidden in every closet, shaken from every tree, it seems there’s something horrible I don’t want to see. I don’t know. Maybe that’s why this town is so content to face in on itself, to keep everything so settled and smooth and serene. And at the moment, I can’t say as I blame them.

Related Characters: Charlie Bucktin (speaker), Jasper Jones, Mad Jack Lionel, Laura Wishart, Rosie Jones
Page Number: 244
Explanation and Analysis:

Charlie and Jasper have just visited Jack, hoping to convince him to confess to Laura Wishart's murder. Instead, they wind up discovering that Jack is Jasper's own grandfather. Jack had always called out at Jasper whenever he saw him, because he feels responsible for the death of Jasper's mother (Jack was driving the car when Jasper's mother was rushed to the hospital with appendicitis).

Thinking back on everything he's just learned, Charlie reaches some bitter conclusions: life is a mess; the world is meaningless, etc. Charlie even comes to sympathize with his townspeople--the same people who beat up his best friend's father just a few days before. In the past, Charlie has resented his neighbors for ignoring injustice and pretending that everything is perfect. Now, Charlie can understand his peers' behavior--they're just trying to forget how horrible life can be.

And yet in spite of his understanding, Charlie himself doesn't try to forget about the horrors of life. Instead, he converts these horrors into literature. By writing about Jack, Laura, and Jasper, Charlie finds a more powerful and honest way of coping with tragedy: he deals with his problems head-on instead of repressing them.

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Mad Jack Lionel Character Timeline in Jasper Jones

The timeline below shows where the character Mad Jack Lionel appears in Jasper Jones. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Fear Theme Icon
Jasper and Charlie reach their destination: the house of Mad Jack Lionel. Charlie feels a twinge of fear. Mad Jack is a notorious person among the... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
Understanding, Innocence, and Sympathy Theme Icon
Charlie wonders if Jasper has brought him to Mad Jack’s house to steal a peach, and hopes that this isn’t the case. Charlie wants to... (full context)
Racism and Scapegoating Theme Icon
Escape, Guilt, and Writing Theme Icon
...always optimistic, and in many ways braver than the children who steal peaches from Mad Jack. Besides Jeffrey, Charlie’s only competitor for being the cleverest student in school is Eliza Wishart—and... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
Understanding, Innocence, and Sympathy Theme Icon
Jasper tells Charlie that he thinks Mad Jack killed Laura, since Jack often saw him walking with Laura. Charlie is furious that Jasper... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
Understanding, Innocence, and Sympathy Theme Icon
Escape, Guilt, and Writing Theme Icon
...investigation. Jasper might be right, he thinks—maybe the police would arrest Jasper, and maybe Mad Jack is responsible. Although he prefers reading books to solving crimes, he feels a little proud... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
Understanding, Innocence, and Sympathy Theme Icon
...that Jasper is climbing very skillfully, using his strength and agility, and he doubts that Jack Lionel, an old man, could have climbed the tree. Jasper reaches the branch where Laura... (full context)
Chapter 2
Fear Theme Icon
Racism and Scapegoating Theme Icon
Understanding, Innocence, and Sympathy Theme Icon
Escape, Guilt, and Writing Theme Icon
...in Charlie’s grade because he’s been held back twice. He’s stolen more peaches from Mad Jack’s trees than anyone else, and he claims that he’s had sex. Whenever Charlie uses a... (full context)
Chapter 3
Fear Theme Icon
Racism and Scapegoating Theme Icon
Escape, Guilt, and Writing Theme Icon
...Charlie looks to see who has checked them out before, but he doesn’t see Mad Jack’s name, or any other names he recognizes. (full context)
Chapter 5
Fear Theme Icon
Racism and Scapegoating Theme Icon
Understanding, Innocence, and Sympathy Theme Icon
Escape, Guilt, and Writing Theme Icon
Jasper tells Charlie that he’s sure Mad Jack Lionel killed Laura. Mad Jack saw Jasper with Laura many times, and he’s killed before.... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
Understanding, Innocence, and Sympathy Theme Icon
Escape, Guilt, and Writing Theme Icon
...make money so that he and Laura could leave Corrigan. Perhaps Laura walked by Mad Jack’s house by herself on the way to the glade, and that was when Mad Jack... (full context)
Appearances and Secrets Theme Icon
...knows about Jasper’s glade. As Charlie thinks about this, he and Jasper pass by Mad Jack’s house, and Charlie feels a sense of dread. (full context)
Chapter 6
Fear Theme Icon
Understanding, Innocence, and Sympathy Theme Icon
Appearances and Secrets Theme Icon
...days after Charlie is caught, Jasper comes with the news that he’s found proof that Jack Lionel was responsible for Laura’s death. Charlie sits by his window, whispering to Jasper. Jasper... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
Understanding, Innocence, and Sympathy Theme Icon
Appearances and Secrets Theme Icon
Charlie isn’t sure what to make of Jasper’s news. Jasper seems certain that Mad Jack is responsible for Laura’s murder. At the same time, Charlie recognizes that, like Atticus Finch,... (full context)
Chapter 7
Fear Theme Icon
Appearances and Secrets Theme Icon
Escape, Guilt, and Writing Theme Icon
...the window—Jasper is there. Jasper explains that tonight, he and Charlie need to confront Mad Jack—sneak onto his property and tell him that they know he wrote “Sorry.” Charlie says that... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
Understanding, Innocence, and Sympathy Theme Icon
Escape, Guilt, and Writing Theme Icon
Remembering his loyalty to Jasper, Charlie decides to follow him to Mad Jack’s house. He tells Wesley he’s going to see the fireworks with Jeffrey. Wesley is clearly... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
Understanding, Innocence, and Sympathy Theme Icon
Escape, Guilt, and Writing Theme Icon
Charlie leaves his house and walks through the center of town to Mad Jack’s house, noticing the children laughing and playing. He hears his name and turns to see... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
Understanding, Innocence, and Sympathy Theme Icon
Escape, Guilt, and Writing Theme Icon
Charlie walks the rest of the way to Mad Jack’s house, where Jasper is waiting for him. He smiles and tells Charlie he knew Charlie... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
Understanding, Innocence, and Sympathy Theme Icon
Jasper bangs on the front door of Mad Jack’s house and calls for Mad Jack. After a few moments, Mad Jack appears at the... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
Understanding, Innocence, and Sympathy Theme Icon
Appearances and Secrets Theme Icon
Mad Jack invites Jasper and Charlie to sit down, but Jasper insists that they won’t sit. Jack,... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
Understanding, Innocence, and Sympathy Theme Icon
Appearances and Secrets Theme Icon
Escape, Guilt, and Writing Theme Icon
Jasper presses on, trying to get Jack to confess to killing Laura. He tells Jack that he and Charlie know he killed... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
Understanding, Innocence, and Sympathy Theme Icon
Jack asks Jasper why he’s being accused of murder, and as he asks the question, he... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
Understanding, Innocence, and Sympathy Theme Icon
The narrative jumps forward: Charlie is back in his room, shaken by his confrontation with Jack. On his walk back from Jack’s house, he didn’t run into Eliza. Instead, he walked... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
Racism and Scapegoating Theme Icon
Understanding, Innocence, and Sympathy Theme Icon
Appearances and Secrets Theme Icon
Charlie reveals everything Jack told Jasper. Jack was the father of Jasper’s father, whose name is David—he showed Jasper... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
Racism and Scapegoating Theme Icon
After Rosie’s child—Jasper—was born, Rosie tried to befriend Jack. After a year of attempts, Rosie finally succeeded. When Jack met Rosie, he changed his... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
Racism and Scapegoating Theme Icon
One day in April, when Jack was visiting Rosie, Rosie clutched her side in pain and begged Jack to drive her... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
Racism and Scapegoating Theme Icon
In the weeks after Rosie’s death, rumors spread throughout Corrigan. Some said that Jack had been in love with Rosie, and was trying to kidnap her, or that the... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
Racism and Scapegoating Theme Icon
Understanding, Innocence, and Sympathy Theme Icon
...likely that Jasper would have heard something from the other townspeople, who gossiped about how Jack killed Rosie. Perhaps, Charlie thinks, the town became afraid of Mad Jack, and the stories... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
Racism and Scapegoating Theme Icon
Understanding, Innocence, and Sympathy Theme Icon
After Jack explained his relationship to Jasper, he told Charlie and Jasper what he’d seen the night... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
A few hours after meeting Jack, Charlie is sitting in his room. He hears a tapping at the window—it’s Eliza. When... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
...no idea how much Eliza knows. It’s possible, he thinks, that it was Eliza who Jack saw following Laura. Eliza leads Charlie through town, past families celebrating the new year, and... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
Understanding, Innocence, and Sympathy Theme Icon
Appearances and Secrets Theme Icon
...Eliza tells Charlie that she’s sorry, and these simple words soothe Charlie. They walk past Jack’s house, and Charlie feels another wave of sympathy for the man, who’s now forced to... (full context)
Understanding, Innocence, and Sympathy Theme Icon
Appearances and Secrets Theme Icon
...glade. The next morning, they walk back to Corrigan, slowly and silently. When they pass Jack’s house, Jasper stops and says that he needs to talk to Jack once more. He... (full context)
Chapter 9
Fear Theme Icon
Escape, Guilt, and Writing Theme Icon
At the moment, Charlie is walking to Jack Lionel’s property, surrounded by a group of schoolboys. Charlie has made a bet with Warwick—if... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
Escape, Guilt, and Writing Theme Icon
...After Eliza walks away, Jeffrey asks Charlie how he plans to steal fruit from Mad Jack. He offers to accompany Charlie, but Charlie insists that this isn’t necessary. He promises Jeffrey... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
At Mad Jack’s house, Warwick orders Charlie to claim his peaches. Charlie climbs over Mad Jack’s fence easily,... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
Charlie approaches Jack’s house and goes around the back, where Jack is sitting on his back porch. Jack... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
Understanding, Innocence, and Sympathy Theme Icon
A moment later, the schoolboys see Charlie emerge from behind Mad Jack’s house, holding five peaches. Charlie notes with amusement that it still took courage for him... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
Understanding, Innocence, and Sympathy Theme Icon
...returns to the crowd of students, and they immediately begin asking him questions about Mad Jack. Charlie notices with satisfaction that Warwick Trent is hanging back—clearly, Charlie has beaten him. Charlie... (full context)