Evans Tries an O-Level

by

Colin Dexter

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Jackson is the senior prison officer at Oxford Prison, which is overseen by the Governor. A World War II veteran, Jackson stands “ramrod straight” and displays his war medals on his jacket pocket. He and Evans are “warm enemies,” frequently exchanging gruff but good-natured insults. Jackson refers to Evans as “Einstein,” poking fun at his bizarre (and possibly suspect) interest in O-level German, but also wishes him well on the exam, saying, “Good luck, old son.” He does feel a slight twinge of empathy for Evans, seen especially when he bends to Evans’s heartfelt (and theatrical) story about needing to wear his grubby hat for good luck—Jackson had told Evans to take it off for the exam, but Evans secretly needs the hat to disguise his new haircut, and, more importantly, his plans to impersonate the proctor to break out of prison.

Jackson Quotes in Evans Tries an O-Level

The Evans Tries an O-Level quotes below are all either spoken by Jackson or refer to Jackson. 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:
Intelligence and Deception Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the National Council of Education Research and Training edition of Evans Tries an O-Level published in 2015.
Evans Tries an O-Level Quotes

“Me ‘at? Huh!” Evans put his right hand lovingly on top of the filthy woollen, and smiled sadly. “D’you know, Mr Jackson, it’s the only thing that’s ever brought me any sort o’ luck in life. Kind o’ lucky charm, if you know what I mean. And today I thought—well, with me exam and all that…”

Buried somewhere in Jackson was a tiny core of compassion; and Evans knew it.

“Just this once, then, Shirley Temple.” (If there was one thing that Jackson genuinely loathed about Evans it was his long, wavy hair.)

Related Characters: James Evans (speaker), Jackson (speaker)
Related Symbols: Evans’s Hat
Page Number: 73-74
Explanation and Analysis:

“And which one of you two morons was it who took Evans for a nice little walk to the main gates and waved him bye-bye?”

“It was me, sir,” stammered Stephens. “Just like you told me, sir. I could have sworn—”

“What? Just like I told you, you say? What the hell—?”

“When you rang, sir, and told me to—”

“When was that?” The Governor’s voice was a whiplash now.

“You know, sir. About twenty past eleven just before—”

“You blithering idiot, man! It wasn’t me who rang you. Don’t you realise—” But what was the use? He had used the telephone at that time, but only to try (unsuccessfully, once more) to get through to the Examinations Board.

Related Characters: The Governor (speaker), Stephens (speaker), James Evans, Jackson
Page Number: 84
Explanation and Analysis:
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Evans Tries an O-Level PDF

Jackson Character Timeline in Evans Tries an O-Level

The timeline below shows where the character Jackson appears in Evans Tries an O-Level. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Evans Tries an O-Level
Intelligence and Deception Theme Icon
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...morning, two prison officers visit Evans, who is wearing his signature “filthy-looking red-and-white bobble hat.” Jackson, the senior prisoner officer, has “already become warm enemies” with Evans. The other man, Stephens,... (full context)
Intelligence and Deception Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Jackson barks at Evans to clean himself up for his exam and to remove his filthy... (full context)
Intelligence and Deception Theme Icon
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
After Evans washes up, Jackson pays him another visit. He orders Evans to take down his posters of pin-up girls... (full context)
Intelligence and Deception Theme Icon
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Gesturing to the ceiling, Evans asks Jackson why he had to be bugged. Jackson reminds him that the prison officers have to... (full context)
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
...McLeery signs in and follows a silent prison officer, who then hands him off to Jackson, who hands him off to Stephens. Meanwhile, the Governor switches on the receiver to listen... (full context)
Intelligence and Deception Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Jackson retrieves McLeery and searches him. The minister is patient and understanding as Jackson riffles through... (full context)
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
...the phone call is fake—a signal or distraction of some kind—but transfers the call to Jackson so that he can take care of it. To check if the call really did... (full context)
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...Evans has donned a blanket. He wonders if this “slight irregularity” ought to be reported (Jackson did say to report “Anything at all fishy”) but decides he’s overreacting. The prison is... (full context)
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
...gnaw[ing] away quietly in the Governor’s mind,” he picks up the phone. At 11:22 A.M., Jackson shouts for Stephens to come to the phone—the Governor is on the line. The Governor... (full context)
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
...the prison’s main gates, bursting with pride that the Governor had chosen “him, and not Jackson” for the task. As the two men walk, Stephens privately observes that the proctor’s Scottish... (full context)
Intelligence and Deception Theme Icon
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
...blood is seeping through his beard, short hair, and clerical collar. As Stephens shouts for Jackson, McLeery weakly presses a white linen handkerchief to his bleeding head. Clutching the German exam... (full context)
Intelligence and Deception Theme Icon
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Turning sharply to Stephens and Jackson, the Governor demands to know who led Evans off the premises; Stephens stutters that it... (full context)
Intelligence and Deception Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
The Governor screams at Jackson for his stupidity. Jackson had searched Evans’s cell for two hours the previous night—and yet,... (full context)
Intelligence and Deception Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...new hat hides “the wreckage of his closely cropped hair.” It was a shame that Jackson had confiscated his nail scissors—Evans had to cut his hair with his razor blade instead,... (full context)
Intelligence and Deception Theme Icon
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
...the most important thing in his plot was the phone call that distracted Stephens and Jackson a few moments before the end of the exam. The correction slip was important, too,... (full context)