I grab this little tale off my literature reader archives from grade 12, inadvertently reminded of this when I myself started taking up some German lessons. It is hard to place this genre as many could picture this through a different perspective, a crime drama? political/comedy satire? mystery, thriller, strategy? (Let me know in the comments, because I came out confused after reading into this several times) So here I am, presenting the gist of this story and my opinions:
The center of attention entails a prisoner who goes by the name James Evans, currently posted in Oxford Prison. Evans claims to have enrolled for O-level German classes out of “interest” months ago and desires to sit for the examinations one day. The Secretary of the Examinations Board gets a request from the Governor of the Oxford Prison to conduct the same in prison. All arrangements are made carefully so that the process takes place seamlessly.
The author makes several generic claims in between the scenes to convince the reader that every person should be given the opportunity to learn and open doors for education for all, irrespective of even if he is a criminal residing in a prison cell. He also marks the possibility that Evans may not have a genuine interest in learning German and may be finding means of an escape via this medium given his brilliant past record of successfully making a run from prison right below the eyes of the surrounding tight security.
Most of the plot covers the careful plans made by the Governor and the prison officers to make sure that Evans does not escape this time. “Evans the Break” as he is referred had no record of violence, was considered a pleasant chap although termed as a congenital kleptomaniac had plans of his own and all the layers get revealed carefully at different sections moving on. At the scene when the exam takes place, the exam invigilator Reverend McLeery enters the scene and takes care of all that is needed to help Evans take the test. With little clues coming in during exam which directs Evans where and how to make a possible escape, a phony correction slip which reveals instant changes in plans in accordance the situation and a prison officer observations (who keeps constant eye on Evans during the exam) convinces the reader enough that the entire scene is staged and many “reliable insiders” are manipulated to help Evans to eventually get out.
With the help of some distractions during the exam and a series of confusing impersonations with some handy props much to the assistance of a “phony”, Evans makes his escape, not once but two times (when he is eventually caught by a bunch of detectives as he fled prison) and also when he fools the prison officers of the hidden clues at another event later on. Evans has the last laugh in the end.
My conclusion after reading into this is, the realization of how crooked the functioning of this whole system is: how easily reliable officers can be manipulated to help a criminal to makes several escapes intermittently, how even top inspectors can be fooled away by criminals in spite of repeated incidents. Corruption within the system, negligence and mismanagement of resources that take place in the society are much highlighted and however sad the state, this is the reality put on the plate very conveniently.