Evans Tries an O-Level


Colin Dexter

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Themes and Colors
Intelligence and Deception Theme Icon
Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Evans Tries an O-Level, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Intelligence and Deception

Colin Dexter’s “Evans Tries an O-level” follows kleptomaniac James Evans’s creative and highly complicated attempts to break out of prison. After three escapes at various maximum-security prisons, Evans is transferred to Oxford Prison, overseen by the prideful, no-nonsense Governor. Despite the Governor’s best efforts, Evans escapes yet again—he studies O-level German for six months, sits for the final exam, and escapes disguised as the proctor in the final moments. Although Evans’s deception is…

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Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride

“Evans Tries an O-Level” follows the Governor of Oxford Prison as he deals with a new and particularly unruly prisoner named James Evans, a cheerful kleptomaniac known for his uncanny ability to break out of prison. The prison officers find Evans’s sudden interest in German particularly suspicious—he takes night classes in O-level German for six months (as the only student in the class) and eagerly asks to take the final exam, claiming he’s “dead…

read analysis of Instinct, Paranoia, and Pride

Appearances vs. Reality

In Colin Dexter’s “Evans Tries an O-Level,” a notorious kleptomaniac named James Evans makes his fourth escape from prison, this time from Oxford Prison, overseen by the no-nonsense Governor and a senior prison officer named Jackson. A tension between appearances and reality runs throughout the story, as many characters—especially Evans—subvert the expectations and judgments other people make of them based on their appearance. This impulse to judge based on appearance is particularly dangerous in…

read analysis of Appearances vs. Reality
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In “Evans Tries an O-Level,” “congenital kleptomaniac” James Evans comes up with a creative and ultimately successful plan to break out of Oxford Prison: he takes night classes in German for six months, asks to take the final exam, and then disguises himself as the proctor, Reverend McLeery (who is actually one of Evans’s accomplices disguised as the real proctor) when the day finally comes. Having escaped three times from other prisons in the past…

read analysis of Friendship