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Jurassic Park | Study Guide

Michael Crichton

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Jurassic Park | Introduction: The InGen Incident | Summary

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Michael Crichton broke Jurassic Park into seven iterations containing 58 chapters with an Introduction, Prologue, and Epilogue. This study guide breaks the novel into 13 sections: Introduction; Prologue; 7 Iterations; and Epilogue. Some iterations are divided into two sections to keep sections to an average of five chapters each.

Summary

In the Introduction, Michael Crichton sets up the scientific background for the narrative. In the late 20th century, many researchers hurried to "commercialize genetic engineering." This movement differs from earlier scientific developments in three ways. First, it has a broad base rather than being focused in a few specific sites, such as atomic research. Second, the research is much more trivial: scientists try to create entertainment or make money, not change the world. Third, research is proceeding with minimal supervision.

In 1953 British scientists Francis Crick and James Watson announced they had identified the double helix structure of human DNA. The shift from the pure science of that endeavor to commercialization was both sudden and massive. Earlier generations of scientists worked to make breakthroughs, whereas scientists today work to make money. The ethical implications of this shift are immense. The "InGen Incident," which came to a head in August 1989, exemplifies this shift and the social implications it carries.

Analysis

In the Introduction, Michael Crichton's historical perspective on the development of biotechnology shapes readers' perspective on this branch of science, as it blends genuine history with a fictional context for the novel's events. Crichton does not provide a date for the Introduction, nor does he identify its author. The analysis of shifting motivations for science is accurate, and if anything, understated: it underestimates how many attempts would be made to patent medicines and engineer the creation of living creatures.

The message aligns with character Ian Malcolm's strongly worded opinions of scientific arrogance, which are found mostly in the second half of the novel. The Introduction does two things very well. First, it sketches the novel's broader implications and provides a rationale for the action in the narrative's concluding iterations. It isn't just the gratuitous fun of an amusement park: this is a case study in what happens when science and capitalism breed. The Introduction's second function is foreshadowing. When readers later encounter John Hammond talking about how safe the park is, they will do so knowing that Jurassic Park will encounter a genetic crisis in which only a handful of people survive.

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