Evans Tries an O-Level

by

Colin Dexter

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Reverend Stuart McLeery Character Analysis

Reverend Stuart McLeery, a parson at St. Mary Mags, is sent to Oxford Prison to act as a proctor for Evans’s O-level German exam. He has a short, choppy haircut and wears a clerical shirt and collar, glasses, and a long coat. He initially appears to be a patient, respectable man who only briefly loses his patience when one of the prison officers, Jackson, searches his briefcase and interrogates him about a strange blow-up tube he’s carrying—which, he tersely replies, is a special cushion he has to sit on due to chronic hemorrhoids. Near the end of the story, the so-called Reverend McLeery turns out to be an imposter—one of Evans’s many “friends” who helps him escape from prison. Readers only get a brief glimpse of the real McLeery—at the end of the story, he’s found tied up with ropes in his office, but the narrative quickly departs from him.

Reverend Stuart McLeery Quotes in Evans Tries an O-Level

The Evans Tries an O-Level quotes below are all either spoken by Reverend Stuart McLeery or refer to Reverend Stuart McLeery. 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

“In the top right-hand corner write your index number—313. And in the box just below that, write your centre number—271. A’ right?”

Related Characters: Reverend Stuart McLeery (speaker), James Evans
Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:

“Will ye please stop writing a wee while, Mr Evans, and listen carefully. Candidates offering German, 021-1, should note the following correction. ‘On page three, line fifteen, the fourth word should read goldenen, not goldene; and the whole phrase will therefore read zum goldenen Löwen, not zum goldene Löwen.’ I will repeat that…”

Related Characters: Reverend Stuart McLeery (speaker), James Evans
Page Number: 78-79
Explanation and Analysis:

There, sprawled back in Evans’s chair was a man (for a semi second Stephens thought it must be Evans), a grey regulation blanket slipping from his shoulders, the front of his closely cropped, irregularly tufted hair awash with fierce red blood which had dropped already through the small black beard, and was even now spreading horribly over the white clerical collar and down into the black clerical front […] the minister’s hand felt feebly for a handkerchief from his pocket, and held it to his bleeding head, the blood seeping slowly through the white linen.

Page Number: 81-82
Explanation and Analysis:

Yes, it had been a jolly good idea for “McLeery” to wear two black fronts, two collars. But that top collar! Phew! It had kept on slipping off the back stud; and there’d been that one panicky moment when “McLeery” had only just got his hand up to his neck in time to stop the collars springing apart before Stephens… Ah! They’d got that little problem worked out all right […] But all that fiddling about under the blanket with the black front and the stud at the back of the collar—that had been far more difficult than they’d ever bargained for […].

Related Characters: James Evans (speaker), Reverend Stuart McLeery, Stephens
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

“Tell me, Evans. How did you manage to plan all this business? You’ve had no visitors—I’ve seen to that. You’ve had no letters—”

“I’ve got lots of friends, though.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Me German teacher, for a start.”

“You mean—? But he was from the Technical College.”

Was ‘e?” Evans was almost enjoying it all now. “Ever check up on ‘im, sir?”

“God Almighty! There’s far more going on than I—”

“Always will be, sir.”

Related Characters: The Governor (speaker), James Evans (speaker), Reverend Stuart McLeery
Page Number: 90
Explanation and Analysis:
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Reverend Stuart McLeery Character Timeline in Evans Tries an O-Level

The timeline below shows where the character Reverend Stuart McLeery 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
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At 8:45 A.M., Reverend Stuart McLeery leaves his bachelor flat and makes his way across town to Oxford Prison, where the... (full context)
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Once at the prison, Reverend Stuart McLeery signs in and follows a silent prison officer, who then hands him off to Jackson,... (full context)
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Jackson retrieves McLeery and searches him. The minister is patient and understanding as Jackson riffles through his belongings—until... (full context)
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...Stephens to leave, admitting that they might be “overdoing it.” After a few administrative tasks (McLeery instructs Evans to write his “index number” and “centre number” in the corner of the... (full context)
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Moments later, the Governor hears McLeery reading off the corrections to the exam to Evans: “the fourth word should read goldenen,... (full context)
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...pointless, given that Evans has barely moved. At the small table across from Evans is McLeery, silently reading his issue of The Church Times with one finger hooked under his clerical... (full context)
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...from Evans’s cell—the prisoner is asking for permission to drape his blanket over his shoulders. McLeery tersely gives him permission. One minute later, when Stephens peers into the peephole, he’s surprised... (full context)
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At 11:20 A.M., The Governor listens as McLeery informs Evans that there are only five minutes remaining in the exam. With “something still... (full context)
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At 11:25 A.M., Stephens escorts McLeery to the prison’s main gates, bursting with pride that the Governor had chosen “him, and... (full context)
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Stephens peers into Evans’s cell and is met with a horrifying sight: McLeery is slumped in Evans’s chair and is drenched in blood. The blood is seeping through... (full context)
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...activity—sirens wail, officers shout, and heavy metal doors clang into place. When the Governor arrives, McLeery shows him the German exam: “A photocopied sheet had been carefully and cleverly superimposed over... (full context)
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Wincing in pain, McLeery tells the men to go to Elsfield Way. The Governor quickly realizes that the Examinations... (full context)
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...collar and shirt, reading glasses, a fake beard, a coat, and whatever weapon he attacked McLeery with. The Governor turns his attention back to the instructions on the last page of... (full context)
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...phone to bring him up to speed. After this, Detective Superintendent Carter calls, explaining that McLeery is now at Radcliffe Hospital—once they got to the Examinations offices, McLeery started feeling particularly... (full context)
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The Governor calls the hospital and asks after McLeery. The hospital clerk says they don’t have a patient with that name, and the Governor... (full context)
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Fifteen minutes later, the prison officers discover the real Reverend Stuart McLeery, bound and gagged at his flat, as he had been since 8:15 A.M. By that... (full context)
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...room, Evans thinks about how it was such “a jolly good idea” for the fake McLeery to wear two clerical shirts and two clerical collars. It was tricky, though, especially since... (full context)
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Evans also explains how he knew which Golden Lion Hotel to go to: McLeery had instructed Evans to write “index number 313” in one box and “centre number 271”... (full context)
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...to cover himself in blood. Evans excitedly recounts his clever idea to have the fake McLeery bring the inflatable rubber ring under the pretense of needing it for a hemorrhoid problem—Evans... (full context)