Evans Tries an O-Level

by

Colin Dexter

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The Governor Character Analysis

The Governor of HM Prison, Oxford is a proud, no-nonsense man and the protagonist of the story. When James Evans breaks out of three prisons and is eventually sent to Oxford Prison, the Governor is determined to outwit Evans and keep the prisoner securely locked up. Even though the Governor thinks he will “see to it personally” that Evans doesn’t break out of prison, he has very little personal contact with Evans, instead delegating duties to Jackson and Stephens. This opens up space for miscommunication (and for the other officers to take their own liberties in how to handle Evans), ultimately leading to crucial mistakes that work in Evans’s favor. The Governor does, however, listen in on Evans’s German exam through a receiver, though this method of supervising the prisoner proves ineffectual—since Evans and McLeery’s plan was premeditated (presumably due to the German teacher’s help), the two men don’t have to talk as Evans wiggles into his disguise. The Governor constantly feels torn between wanting to do everything in his power to ensure Evans is secure and wanting to look unruffled and in control. Although he frequently worries about being paranoid, all of his hunches prove correct, suggesting that his pride repeatedly stood in the way of his ability to effectively carry out his duties as Governor. The Governor redeems himself when he tracks Evans down at the Golden Lion Hotel—seemingly without help from high-level detectives Carter and Bell—though he is outsmarted once again when he sends Evans back to prison in a van driven by the criminal’s two accomplices, the silent prison officer and “McLeery.”

The Governor Quotes in Evans Tries an O-Level

The Evans Tries an O-Level quotes below are all either spoken by The Governor or refer to The Governor . 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’s no record of violence. Quite a pleasant sort of chap, they tell me. Bit of a card, really. One of the stars at the Christmas concert. Imitations, you know the sort of thing: Mike Yarwood stuff. No, he’s just a congenital kleptomaniac, that’s all.”

Related Characters: The Governor (speaker), James Evans, The Secretary
Page Number: 71
Explanation and Analysis:

Was this the sort of thing the Governor had feared? Was the phone call a fake? Some signal? Some secret message…? But he could check on that immediately. He dialed the number of the Examinations Board, but heard only the staccato bleeps of a line engaged. But then the line was engaged, wasn’t it? Yes. Not very intelligent, that…

Page Number: 78
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:

“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:

“See you soon, Evans.” It was almost as if the Governor were saying farewell to an old friend after a cocktail party.

“Cheerio, sir. I, er, I was just wonderin’. I know your German’s pretty good, sir, but do you know any more o’ these modern languages?”

“Not very well. Why?”

Evans settled himself comfortably on the back seat, and grinned happily. “Nothin’, really. I just ‘appened to notice that you’ve got some O-level Italian classes comin’ up next September, that’s all.”

“Perhaps you won’t be with us next September, Evans.”

James Roderick Evans appeared to ponder the Governor’s words deeply. “No. P’r’aps I won’t,” he said.

Related Characters: The Governor (speaker), James Evans (speaker), The Silent Prison Officer
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Governor Character Timeline in Evans Tries an O-Level

The timeline below shows where the character The Governor 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
In March, the Secretary of the Examinations Board receives a call from the Governor at Oxford Prison, asking if one of his prisoners can take the final exam in... (full context)
Intelligence and Deception Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
The Secretary bends to the Governor ’s request to let Evans take the exam, agreeing that they should “give him a... (full context)
Intelligence and Deception Theme Icon
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
...due to the “wave of unrest” up there, he was sent to Oxford Prison instead. The Governor is determined to keep Evans secure and avoid being “disgrace[d].” He doesn’t consider Evans a... (full context)
Intelligence and Deception Theme Icon
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...reminds him that the prison officers have to be extra cautious with Evans, and that the Governor himself will be listening in on the exam. Evans thinks to himself that he already... (full context)
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
...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 all the extra... (full context)
Intelligence and Deception Theme Icon
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
...he can’t concentrate with Stephens hovering in the cell. Having overheard this through the receiver, the Governor orders Stephens to leave, admitting that they might be “overdoing it.” After a few administrative... (full context)
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
At 9:40 A.M., the Governor receives a call from the Examinations Board. The “Assistant Secretary with a special responsibility for... (full context)
Intelligence and Deception Theme Icon
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Moments later, the Governor hears McLeery reading off the corrections to the exam to Evans: “the fourth word should... (full context)
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Sometime later, the Governor is startled to hear noise coming from Evans’s cell—the prisoner is asking for permission to... (full context)
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
At 11:20 A.M., The Governor listens as McLeery informs Evans that there are only five minutes remaining in the exam.... (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 “him, and not Jackson” for the task. As the two men walk, Stephens... (full context)
Intelligence and Deception Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
...with noise and 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... (full context)
Intelligence and Deception Theme Icon
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
Wincing in pain, McLeery tells the men to go to Elsfield Way. The Governor quickly realizes that the Examinations Board is headquartered there—one of their employees must have been... (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 was him,... (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... (full context)
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
The Governor quickly gets Chief Inspector Bell on the phone to bring him up to speed. After... (full context)
Intelligence and Deception Theme Icon
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
The Governor calls the hospital and asks after McLeery. The hospital clerk says they don’t have a... (full context)
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
...bed, “was the very last man in the world that Evans had expected—or wanted—to see,” the Governor . (full context)
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
The Governor quietly tells Evans it’s no use trying to escape—he has the place surrounded (he only... (full context)
Intelligence and Deception Theme Icon
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Evans relaxes, knowing he’s been caught and there’s no use fighting it. Evans excitedly tells the Governor that the most important thing in his plot was the phone call that distracted Stephens... (full context)
Intelligence and Deception Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
...Evans looked up “the six-figure reference 313/271,” which led to the city of Chipping Norton. The Governor says he figured this out too, which is how he knew to track Evans down... (full context)
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Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
The Governor asks Evans if he really did understand German all this time, and Evans says he... (full context)
Intelligence and Deception Theme Icon
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Friendship Theme Icon
The two men walk alongside one another down the stairs. The Governor asks how Evans managed to communicate with the outside world—he’s had no visitors or letters.... (full context)
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Friendship Theme Icon
In the lobby, a blonde receptionist informs the Governor that the prison van is waiting out front. Evans gives her a wink, and she... (full context)
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Friendship Theme Icon
The Governor says goodbye to Evans as if he were “saying farewell to an old friend after... (full context)