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Jurassic Park | Study Guide

Michael Crichton

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Jurassic Park | Motifs



The motif of time is introduced early in the narrative when Grant guides his students in excavating a dinosaur dig in Montana. Even though the students are training in paleontology, they still read the posture of fossilized dinosaurs as "distorted." Grant counters that it's just the effect of the passage of time. Later, the novel reveals that many people fail to grasp geologic time spans: no one understands how much time has past since dinosaurs lived.

Time is important in other ways as well. There are multiple countdowns in the book: when the power goes off; when the sedated T. rex collapses; when the boat lands and dinosaurs reach the mainland; and when Ian Malcolm finally gets medical care. The characters are racing against multiple clocks, and this frantic pace is juxtaposed with the geologic time spans of the paleontologist.


Sight is linked with knowledge and understanding and, at times, with survival. Alice Levin identifies a child's drawing as depicting a dinosaur, although the lab's doctor is too biased to realize she is correct. Grant's knowledge lets him see through geologic eons (and the dirt) to properly understand prehistoric fossils; Malcolm's mathematical insights let him accurately envision a disastrous future for the park before he's even visited it. When the tour group reviews data on the park, Malcolm uses the dinosaur population graph to show that the animals are breeding. Tim's night vision goggles are essential to his survival and the dinosaurs' selective visual capacity is, too. When vision is lost, as when Nedry is blinded by a dinosaur, the result is deadly. Technology can be used to augment humans' natural sight, but dependence on technological aids can be a hindrance, as when staff depend on motion sensors to count a specific number of animals. Clear vision leads to knowledge and life, while obscured vision or blindness leads to chaos and death.

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