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Literature Study GuidesJurassic ParkFourth Iteration Chapters 37 43 Summary

Jurassic Park | Study Guide

Michael Crichton

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Jurassic Park | Fourth Iteration: Chapters 37–43 | Summary



Chapter 37: The Road

Dr. Gerald Harding and Ellie Sattler are back at the visitor center. Robert Muldoon and Donald Gennaro head out in a Jeep to help the rest of the tour group still in the park. They find Ed Regis's leg in the road. Muldoon examines it, and concludes the T. rex tore it from Regis's body. They find a Land Rover crumpled at the base of a tree. Inspecting the vehicle, Muldoon finds Tim Murphy's watch. It's broken, but the strap is intact, which may mean Tim was in good enough shape to remove it. Muldoon sees human footprints in the muddy road, indicating an adult came that way, then joined the children and ran off.

They follow a wheezing sound, and find Ian Malcolm. The mathematician's leg is so badly broken he has applied a tourniquet. He tells them Lex Murphy is still out there. The men decide to take Malcolm back to the visitor center. He needs medical attention to save his life, and the only chance they have of finding the children is using the park's motion sensors.

Chapter 38: Control

When they get back to the visitor center, Donald Gennaro tells Hammond his grandchildren are missing. Hammond seems curiously unconcerned. In the control room, Dr. Henry Wu helps John Arnold try to determine what Dennis Nedry did to the computer system. They eventually find that Nedry had built a "trap door" into the code. This command let Nedry turn off the perimeter and security systems. Arnold should be able to reverse the command in time. Wu goes to count his embryos.

Muldoon goes to Ellie Sattler's room and updates her on the situation. He tells her there's no doctor on the island, and because the phone lines are down, they can't call for one. He asks her to help Harding with the injured Malcolm.

Chapter 39: In the Park

Alan Grant leads Lex and Tim through the park, navigating by the numbers on the motion sensors. When Grant decides they need to rest, he climbs a tree to get a better view. He sees a building not far away. Once he's on the ground, he leads the kids to a 12-foot-high fence they'll have to scale. Tim is scared of heights, but climbs the fence once his sister teases him about it. After the fence they cross a moat, then take shelter in the building and sleep.

Chapter 40: Control

Following on his discovery of Nedry's computer "trap door" code, Arnold determines how to override the command and bring the system online. The lights come back on, and once the electric fences are online Arnold identifies three areas where the fencing is short-circuited. He turns on the motion sensors and sets the system to search for 400 animals—so they can find all the dinosaurs plus Grant and the kids. However, there is no sign of them.

Arnold sends Gennaro to the lodge to update the others and to let Harding know they'll need him soon to herd the dinosaurs back to their proper places. Sattler takes Gennaro aside and lets him know Malcolm needs a helicopter to get him off the island and to a doctor.

Chapter 41: The Park

Muldoon and his crew work on the electric fences. They remove a tree that has fallen on one section of fence, but Muldoon refuses to repair the fence around the T. rex area until morning because they don't have any tranquilizers capable of knocking out a T. rex. Later, Hammond supervises Harding's handling of the hypsilophodont as he tranquilizes her so they can move her back to her area.

Chapter 42: Dawn

The sound of an automated feeding system wakes Grant at 5 am. He hears Lex laughing, and follows the sound to find her feeding a baby triceratops. They pet the young dinosaur until its mother arrives to guide it away. Tim joins them, and they all go to try to trigger the motion sensors so that the park knows where they are. They get no response. In the distance, a dinosaur roars.

Back in the control room, Arnold can't figure out how to fix what Nedry did to the park's phones. Wu suggests shutting the computer system down. Arnold resists because he's concerned about getting all the systems back online, but Gennaro insists: they need the phones to save Malcolm. Arnold shuts the system down, then turns it back on. He is resetting things manually when he sees something on one of the monitors: the hadrosaurs are stampeding because the T. rex is near. They are running at Grant and the kids, who climb a tree to escape. In the control room, they see the hadrosaurs scatter, which means the T. rex killed one.

Chapter 43: The Park

When Grant opens his eyes, a hadrosaur is eating leaves right near his foot. It seems not to see him. Lex scares the dinosaur and then starts to climb down the tree. This spooks the dinosaur, and it moves away. When they reach the ground, they go back to the building where they spent the night because Tim says he saw a raft. They don't find the raft, but they do find a tranquilizer gun.

They go to the dock to search for a boat. As they walk, they find the adult T. rex in the middle of the road, sleeping off its massive meal. They sneak past and get to the boat, but Lex coughs. The T. rex wakes up and follows them. It gets in the lagoon, swims toward them, and then dives to hit the boat from below. As it breaks water, Grant shoots it with a dart. It roars and the juvenile T. rex—busy at the hadrosaur kill—roars back. The adult goes to defend its kill, leaving Grant and the kids in a boat that is now moving with the current. Exhausted from rowing, Grant falls asleep.


Robert Muldoon's ability to read the marks on Ed Regis's severed leg in Chapter 37 shows him as one of the heroes of Jurassic Park: the good guys can all correctly read signs and patterns. The good guys who survive can all do this with physical objects, not just with mathematical patterns like Ian Malcolm. The same is true for Muldoon's ability to accurately determine Tim Murphy's actions in the wake of the T. Rex attack, as well as why and how an adult (Alan Grant) joined the kids.

Likewise, the choice to take Malcolm back to the visitor center works well on the suspense level, further fragmenting the party and putting the children in even greater danger. However, the idea that the only way to find the children is through the motion sensors seems a stretch; it may be a plot device embraced for its effect rather than its logic.

In Chapter 38 John Hammond's tepid response to his grandchildren having gone missing aligns with his firm belief the park is safe for children. However, it marks him as a shallow character and one of the novel's villains. Assigning Ellie Sattler to take care of Malcolm makes some sense: she has shown herself competent and compassionate. However, it also seems somewhat sexist. Her specialty is paleobotany; Dr. Henry Wu has more to do with living creatures than she does.

Chapter 39 has plot implications (it puts Grant and the kids in motion, trying to find their way back to safety), but its larger function is developing characters and character relationships. When Grant climbs a tree to look for someplace to rest, it shows his physical prowess: most mature men don't climb trees casually. It also establishes further parallels between Grant and Tim: Tim climbed down the tree to escape the wrecked car, while Grant climbs up one. As Grant had earlier mentioned having dinosaurs on the brain (like Tim), he also retains his boyish activity level.

Lex and Tim's interaction shows Tim overcoming weakness (his fear of heights) to rise to a challenge, but it is an example of Michael Crichton's sporadic, uneven characterization. Tim is actively afraid of heights in this chapter, but when he found himself up a tree (in a car), his reaction seemed much more appropriate. Likewise, if he is this afraid, a bit of teasing from his sister should not be enough to goad him over.

Chapter 40 shows the Jurassic Park staff learning from experience. They have adopted the idea of changing how they are using the motion sensors, and apparently are dealing more accurately with reality. However, their failure to locate Grant and the children shows that this adaptation is incomplete. Their technology is not fully suited to the purposes to which they're applying it, and they have no alternative methods.

The park's failure to keep a doctor on site is another example of hubris. Readers have seen how difficult it is to fly to the island, and how weather interferes with boats docking. However, the park proceeds as if there will be no injuries (even after the worker's death in the Prologue) and as if park staff will always be able to access the mainland.

In Chapter 41 park workers are repairing fences and returning stray dinosaurs to their pens. However, Muldoon's legitimate refusal to recapture the T. rex leaves everyone in danger. Hammond's financial decision not to stock tranquilizer guns powerful enough to take down the T. rex seems—like his decision not to have a full-time medic—shortsighted in the extreme.

This decision, and John Arnold's dismissal of the "Malcolm Effect" (chaos effect) found in this chapter, show a fundamental failure to understand how complex systems work, or the risks they carry.

When the automated feeding system comes back online in Chapter 42, it gives readers a sense of hope that the park is recovering. The idyllic scene of Lex Murphy feeding and naming a baby dinosaur is a welcome break in the tension, and a genuine pleasure in itself. It suggests that Hammond may be right about how appealing the park could be. However, the roar of the dinosaur foreshadows a threat looming just out of sight, and the failure to trigger the motion sensors underscores how dysfunctional the park is: the park's mechanical eyes can't see humans.

Grant and the children can, however, see the hadrosaurs stampede. Crichton's use of such fragmented narration is a way to create cliffhangers, and give multiple views of the book's action. Here, though, readers can really see how Crichton's fiction writing benefits from his screenwriting experience. He doesn't just shift points of view in a narrative sense. It's like he's shifting cameras. He doesn't have to choose between following Grant and the kids and showing the stampede up close or showing it from the control room. He jumps between "camera angles" with speed and grace. As it does here, this often adds context, meaning, and drama.

Chapter 43 underscores the literal and figurative importance of sight. Grant and Lex doze at the beginning of the chapter, and their temporary lack of vision parallels the dinosaurs' visual abilities. Grant, Lex, and other humans in the park cannot see—literally or figuratively—with their eyes closed. And because of the frog DNA used in their creation, it turns out the dinosaurs can only see moving objects. Crichton also spares Grant and the children when they are able to slip past the sleeping T. rex. Like the scene of Lex feeding a baby dinosaur, Crichton's image of a T. rex so bloated it naps in the middle of the road is a welcome innovation in the tradition of dinosaurs in film and fiction. Often they are portrayed simply as mindless killing machines: writers and filmmakers focus on the carnage, and leave out the larger context.

In this chapter Crichton provides that context, both in terms of the sleeping T. rex and in how the mature and juvenile T. rex focus on one another, rather than on the passing humans. In a sense, this chapter shows the park really becoming Jurassic Park: a habitat in which the creatures live, play, and kill, and in which humans are almost irrelevant.

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