Literature Study GuidesJurassic ParkFourth Iteration Chapters 30 36 Summary

Jurassic Park | Study Guide

Michael Crichton

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Jurassic Park | Fourth Iteration: Chapters 30–36 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 30: The Main Road

The tour group sits in their two stationary cars. Using night vision goggles Ed Regis gave him, Tim Murphy sees something move between the two vehicles, but can't identify it. Lightning and crashes of thunder frighten Lex Murphy. Tim sees the T. rex. Regis panics and runs off into the night. When Tim sees the T. rex holding onto the fence, he realizes it isn't electrified. He tells Alan Grant, then closes the car door Regis had left open. Grant tells Tim the kids should be fine as long as they stay quiet. The T. rex stares at them, smashes and rips at the car, then picks it up and throws it.

To the men in the other car, it looks like the kids' car suddenly just disappears. Ian Malcolm panics: he gets out of the car and runs away. Grant gets out, too, but stays completely still. The dinosaur attacks their car, but ignores Grant, who realizes he can't be seen if he remains immobile. The T. rex bellows, trying to get him to move, then kicks the car in frustration. The vehicle strikes Grant, sending him through the air. He passes out.

Chapter 31: Return

Dr. Gerald Harding is driving Ellie Sattler and Donald Gennaro in a gas-powered Jeep, but a tree has fallen and blocked the main road. He can't report it because the radio is out. He turns back to take a maintenance road.

In the control room, lightning flashes and the power goes out. After a long moment in which John Arnold worries about the effect on the computers, the monitors come back on. Robert Muldoon returns and reports the missing Jeep. Arnold can't access the tour group because the radios are out. He also can't restart the systems because of something Dennis Nedry did to them.

Chapter 32: Nedry

Nedry is driving toward the east dock, where he intends to deliver the dinosaur embryos. However, he gets lost in the storm and finds himself in front of a concrete barrier. He gets out to determine where he is, and realizes he's near the river. Because the river runs through the entire island, this doesn't help him pinpoint his location. He hears a hooting sound, then the sound of something big moving through the bushes. He tries to run away, back to the car, but the dinosaur beats him there.

Nedry waits to see if the dinosaur will attack, and it spits on him from a great distance. At first Nedry is disgusted, then his skin starts to "tingle and burn." Some of the spit hit his eyes, and it blinds him. He falls to the ground from the pain, and the dinosaur kills him.

Chapter 33: Bungalow

John Hammond and Dr. Henry Wu are at Hammond's bungalow, sharing a relaxed dinner.

In the control room, Arnold learns from a guard that Nedry was seen going into the garage 15 minutes earlier.

Out in the storm, Harding and Sattler must wait for a herd of apatosaurs to cross the road. Harding says the animals don't recognize the car, so they ignore it. Their visual system may not even let them see stationary objects. Later, they see compys active in the rain. Because they are scavengers, this means there's something dead nearby, and they go looking for what it might be.

Chapter 34: Tim

Tim regains consciousness in the car, which is stuck in a tree. He gets out of the vehicle and starts climbing down. The car falls, dropping a few feet at a time, hitting branches that slow or stop its descent for a short time. Tim gets to the ground just before the car smashes down. The stegosaur comes by, moving slowly. Tim throws a rock at it to try to drive it away. He can't see much in the dark, and remembers the night vision goggles. He goes into the smashed car to retrieve them. Once he has them, he sees his sister's baseball and begins looking for her.

In the control room, Muldoon checks in. No one's heard from Nedry. Muldoon distributes the emergency radios. They hadn't been plugged in, so they need to charge for 20 minutes before they can be used to call the cars.

Wu returns to his lab to check the DNA records for each cloned dinosaur species. He wants to dismiss Grant's concern about the dinosaurs breeding, but finds all five species that are breeding incorporated frog DNA.

Chapter 35: Lex

Tim finds Lex hiding in a drainage pipe, banging her head against the side. She is so traumatized that, at first, she refuses to leave. Lex eventually comes out of the pipe and calls for Grant, who quickly locates the children and begins checking them for injuries. Lex seems okay, but Tim has a broken nose and a bruised shoulder.

Nearby, Regis regains control of himself. He hears Lex calling and walks toward her. Grant and the kids hear Regis cough as he approaches and walk to where they can see him. Suddenly, the juvenile T. rex attacks and kills Regis. Grant grabs the kids. They all run away while Regis is screaming.

Chapter 36: Control

As Harding and Sattler make their way back to the center, the radio crackles to life. Despite the static, Sattler picks up that the other cars are stuck in the storm, and Muldoon wants to go help them. However, she doesn't understand why this is urgent.

In the control room, Hammond screams at Arnold to get the park back online. Arnold remains calm and suggests Hammond go get a cup of coffee. He then starts inspecting the computer code, trying to figure out what Nedry did to the system.

Analysis

Chapter 30 shows that there are limits to knowledge—even Alan Grant's knowledge: when he tells the kids they should be safe if they don't move, he is simply wrong. This happens at one of the novel's major crisis points: the group meets a T. rex in the dark, in the rain, and with no power.

The chapter supports the motif of sight, as Grant's quick wits save him, and sets in motion a crucial plot thread: the realization of gaps in the dinosaurs' visual system. This is a critical example where understanding the limits of sight literally saves someone's life. It also implicitly suggests a broader question: if the dinosaurs miss something vital because of limited vision, what might the humans miss, especially those running Jurassic Park?

It might be realistic for both Ed Regis and Ian Malcolm to panic and try to run from a T. rex. However, having two adult characters panic and run away in a single chapter links them together. For all his theoretical insight, in a dangerous situation, Malcolm the mathematician is no more functional than Regis the PR guy. And in the end, both die from their panic.

A number of the novel's early chapters quietly documented how interconnected the human race is in the contemporary age. The novel moves smoothly from one location to another, and the characters maintain conversations spanning the globe, or, in the case of Ellie Sattler and Alan Grant, millions of years. From Montana to San Francisco to Costa Rica: when the system works, it easily maintains connections over vast distances. Characters can keep having the same conversation whether they are in Montana, flying in a jet, or landing on Isla Nublar. When the system breaks down, however, everyone is isolated, as Chapter 31 demonstrates. Not only must they focus on things in their immediate environment, that environment can create nearly insurmountable obstacles. As Dr. Gerald Harding's need to switch roads communicates, things take more time and people must change their paths. Harding can do this because of the type of car he's driving, but the tour group can't. Even if they weren't stranded, they'd have to continue along the same path.

Chapter 32 provides an example of Michael Crichton's moral universe. Dennis Nedry is the most explicit and conscious villain in the novel. He causes the park's disruption, so, in a fine example of poetic justice, he dies first, blind and in excruciating pain. As he dies Nedry exemplifies the themes of hubris, system complexity, and greed, along with the motif of sight. He intentionally disrupts the park's security systems, hampering the park for personal benefit, as if the systems don't apply to him. He has been working at the park for some time, and knows better than most how dangerous the dinosaurs are, but he chooses to turn off the system and drive alone in the dark and in the rain. This is arrogance of the highest order. When the dilophosaur blinds him with its poisonous spit, it is a fine metaphor for his lack of foresight and the dire problems it has caused for him and those around him.

The nature of John Hammond's character is emphatically resolved in Chapter 33 by his extended discussion of why scientific research for noble purposes is a waste of time. This speech displays his hubris and puts him squarely in the villain category. His praise of science for entertainment and profit aligns him in direct opposition to the view Crichton's Introduction articulates. He may not intend evil, but his shallow motivations guarantee evil results.

This chapter also highlights another key aspect of Crichton's writing style: distributed information. Dr. Gerald Harding may not have figured out what was wrong with the stegosaur, but he possesses crucial information about dinosaurs' vision: they are keyed to motion and may not see stationary objects. This nugget of information is an example of dramatic irony: other characters might die because they lack this knowledge. The park's choice not to share this information as part of the briefing is an example of hubris. They assume no one ever needs to know this about dinosaurs. It also helps the novel function as a thriller. Readers know what the characters don't, and can therefore anticipate outcomes.

Chapter 34 develops plot, characters, and themes simultaneously. When Tim Murphy wakes up in a tree, he's completely vulnerable. It's a great image for the breakdown of a complex system. One moment he's proceeding along a predetermined path, then power breaks down, and he's thrown into a tree. Tim's situation exemplifies human vulnerability in a world of living dinosaurs. After all, he wasn't walking among them, and he didn't sneak in. He was in a car designed for the park and was invited by his grandfather, who owns the park. In theory, he had all the precautions a human could have, or need. And that's a fine example of hubris: human precautions mean so little, a T. rex can discard them casually. That being said, Tim's response to his situation shows his innate character and his character development. Rather than panicking like some of the adults, Tim appraises the situation and acts appropriately to maximize his chances of survival.

The activities Robert Muldoon and Dr. Henry Wu carry out seem to be disconnected: one is getting radios, the other is checking records about DNA. However, in a larger sense, they are both the same type of action. In both cases, they are playing catch up. They are doing things that should have been done earlier to make up for the park's lack of preparation. Here again, Michael Crichton points to humans' lack of foresight; that the park's emergency radios are not fully charged seems almost criminally negligent. Negligence is even more apparent in Wu's belated check of the DNA these dinosaur species share and the traits carried by that DNA. Muldoon and Wu also exemplify the exploitative and capitalistic mindset Crichton describes in the Introduction.

Tim finding himself in a tree and Lex in a drainage pipe exemplify how completely the children's world has broken down. It seems like a retreat from reality, but it is also a much safer place to be than walking down the road like Ed Regis. Chapter 35 continues to develop Alan Grant as a mature hero: he fills the position of the children's absent father, comes when called, and puts their needs and injuries above his own. The very fact that he methodically reviews each of them for injuries demonstrates how suited he is for this world.

Regis's death is almost comic. Earlier in the novel he had grumbled about being assigned to babysit the kids because he was a trained professional. Now, a much more highly trained professional is babysitting the kids, while Regis gets eaten.

Ellie Sattler's competence with the radio in Chapter 36 develops her character further. She has already proven to be learned and compassionate (through her reading of the plants as poisonous and her helping the stegosaur); now she's shown to have hands-on emergency skills. Like many of the abilities Crichton praises in this novel, these skills were developed experientially rather than through training alone.

The radio call and John Arnold's struggles with the computer system are somewhat parallel. In both cases, people are trying to save others by grappling with technologies outside their areas of expertise. The difference is that Arnold is fighting active sabotage, while Sattler is trying to slog through natural static.

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