Evans Tries an O-Level

by

Colin Dexter

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Evans Tries an O-Level can help.
Stephens is new to his post as an officer at Oxford Prison, where he reports to the senior prison officer, Jackson. Stephens is a “burly, surly-looking man,” who is supposed to sit in Evans’s cell during his exam. Evans balks at this, however, claiming he can’t concentrate. Afraid of looking too concerned about the threat of Evans escaping, the Governor allows Stephens to leave the cell and just check on Evans through the peephole every minute. Everything appears normal each time Stephens peeks through the peephole, and he takes the liberty to change his interval from one minute to two—until he notices that Evans has donned a blanket around his shoulders. Although Stephens has been ordered to report anything that seems even vaguely “fishy,” he reasons that Evans is just cold due to this wing of the prison not getting any sunlight and not having any heating during this time of year. Like the Governor, Stephens is adept at talking himself out of his suspicions for the sake of looking in-control and unbothered. Stephens is also in charge of escorting McLeery out of the prison after the exam. Although Stephens feels proud that he’s the one chosen for such an important job, his confidence and pride quickly deflate upon returning to Evans’s cell—there lies McLeery (who is actually Evans), covered in blood.

Stephens Quotes in Evans Tries an O-Level

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

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:

“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:

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:
Get the entire Evans Tries an O-Level LitChart as a printable PDF.
Evans Tries an O-Level PDF

Stephens Character Timeline in Evans Tries an O-Level

The timeline below shows where the character Stephens 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
...Jackson, the senior prisoner officer, has “already become warm enemies” with Evans. The other man, Stephens, is a “burly, surly-looking man” who is new to Oxford prison and to the prison-officer... (full context)
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
...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 in to Evans’s cell, wondering if... (full context)
Intelligence and Deception Theme Icon
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
...few minutes behind schedule, made even later by Evans’s insistence that he can’t concentrate with Stephens hovering in the cell. Having overheard this through the receiver, the Governor orders Stephens to... (full context)
Intelligence and Deception Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
No longer stationed inside the cell, Stephens now peers through the peephole into Evans’s cell for five seconds every minute (eventually transitioning... (full context)
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...drape his blanket over his shoulders. McLeery tersely gives him permission. One minute later, when Stephens peers into the peephole, he’s surprised to see that Evans has donned a blanket. He... (full context)
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
...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 instructs Stephens to... (full context)
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
At 11:25 A.M., Stephens escorts McLeery to the prison’s main gates, bursting with pride that the Governor had chosen... (full context)
Intelligence and Deception Theme Icon
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Stephens peers into Evans’s cell and is met with a horrifying sight: McLeery is slumped in... (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... (full context)
Intelligence and Deception Theme Icon
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...his hand up to his neck in time to stop the collars springing apart before Stephens…” He trails off. It was also challenging to do “all that fiddling about under the... (full context)
Intelligence and Deception Theme Icon
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
...Governor that 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... (full context)