- Reflecting on the story, what did you feel about Evans’ having the last laugh?
Evans smartly devised and executed the plan of his escape. He managed to fool everyone till the end of the story. He left fake clues to misguide the officials chasing him. Even as the Governor heaved a sigh of relief after nabbing him in the Golden Lion hotel, Evans was secretly cooking and executing another path of escape. The prison officer and the van used by the Governor for transferring Evans back to the prison were forged. The Governor was happy that ultimately he was able to track him down using his intelligence and knowledge of German. However, Evans had planned a step ahead. With his successful escape, Evans definitely had a well earned last laugh.
- When Stephens comes back to the cell he jumps to a conclusion and the whole machinery blindly goes by his assumption without even checking the identity of the injured ‘McLeery’. Does this show how hasty conjectures can prevent one from seeing the obvious? How is the criminal able to predict such negligence?
On his return, Stephens saw McLerry bleeding profusely in the cell. Presuming the man he had escorted to the gate to be Evans and not McLeery, he raised an alarm. None of the official staff tried to verify whether this McLeery was the real one. As the bleeding McLeery offered to help the police to track Evans, nobody questioned how he knew the plan. Later, when the Governor nabbed Evans and sent him back to jail with the prison officers, he did not notice that this officer was unknown to him. It was soon unearthed that the officers were Evan’s own men who helped him escape again. Thus, it is definite that the gullible officials made speculations in a jiffy which amounted to their subsequent negligence.
On the contrary, a plotting criminal makes a foolproof plan taking care of the intricacies and does not make hasty assumptions. He has back-up plans ready. Also, a criminal's mind is observant enough to predict any possible negligence on the part of the officials. Evans too must have easily observed these during his stay in the prison, and planned accordingly.
- What could the Governor have done to securely bring back Evans to the prison when he caught him at the Golden Lion? Does that final act of foolishness really prove that “he was just another good-for-a-giggle, gullible governor, that was all”?
At the Golden Lion when the Governor arrested Evans, he should have been extra cautious in sending him back to the jail. If he knew the whereabouts of Evan, he should have taken along more police officials. Also, considering the fact that Evans had successfully fooled them earlier, he should not have taken chances by sending him in a van with just a couple of police officers whom, apparently, he did not know. As a result, Evans easily escaped once again. Ideally, the Governor should have escorted Evans himself. Thus, this final act of foolishness really proved that “he was just another good-for-a-giggle, gullible governor, that was all”.
- While we condemn the crime, we are sympathetic to the criminal. Is this the reason why prison staff often develops a soft corner for those in custody?
‘Crime’ and ‘criminals’ are usually considered synonymous. However, our perception changes when we see a criminal suffering or serving his punishment. This is what happens with the prison staff. Noticing a criminal suffer in the prison, they unwittingly develop a soft corner for him in their hearts. They look at him as a human being and not as a mere criminal. They start noticing and appreciating their mental capabilities rather than just remembering their crime.
In the story, Jackson lets Evans keep his hat after knowing that he considered it to be his lucky charm. Evans knew of the emotional side of Jackson and so hit it directly through his talk about “lucky charm”, and managed to fool the stern and practical officer. Even the Governor could not help noticing his intelligence when he caught him in the hotel. Thus, he was not cruel or stern with Evans, and regrettably, took him leniently.
- Do you agree that between crime and punishment it is mainly a battle of wits?
In every battle the stronger side wins; and this strength could be physical or mental. However, after reading the story we can conclude that between crime and punishment, it is mainly a battle of wits. The side which outsmarts the other wins. It is not always that a criminal gets punished. In the given story, although well trained, the police officials were easily fooled by the clever Evans, who managed to escape from right under their nose.