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Jurassic Park | Study Guide

Michael Crichton

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Jurassic Park | Plot Summary

See Plot Diagram



In the Introduction Crichton discusses how genetic engineering differs from earlier scientific developments in its commercialization, trivialization, and lack of supervision.

First, Crichton explains how previous scientific research was undertaken as a means to benefit humanity, but molecular genetics research has grown into a multibillion-dollar industry in the last few decades. The commercialization of biotech began in 1976 when a biochemist and a venture capitalist founded a company to commercialize gene splicing. Scientists once driven by the thrill of discovery began to view science as a way to enrich themselves. Emerging biotech companies provided them with the means to do so.

Second, Crichton expresses concern over the frivolity, or triviality, of genetic engineering. Creating square trees and "injectable scent cells" simply to make life easier or more pleasant may carry unforeseen consequences for the future. And third, Crichton sees the lack of supervision in this field of science as an alarming trend. There exist no federal laws to regulate the practice of genetic engineering, partially because the field is so broad and all-encompassing. With no watchdogs, biotech companies are given free rein to make ethical decisions that could have adverse effects on the planet and on humanity.


In the Prologue readers preview the type of action to come when a small group of InGen employees bring an injured worker to the medical clinic of a coastal village in Costa Rica. They claim he was hurt in a construction accident, but in reality, he was the victim of a dinosaur attack. This incident spurs outsiders to wonder what is going on at InGen's construction site.

First Iteration

As the narrative opens, an American family vacations in Costa Rica when an animal attacks their daughter. Local medical and scientific personnel identify the attacking animal as a basilisk lizard, though there are enough discrepancies to make them uncertain. One of the doctors, curious about the girl's description of her attacker, visits the beach where the child was bitten. There he locates the corpse of a lizard resembling the girl's description, which he sends to Columbia University in New York for examination. A lab tech identifies a sketch of the lizard drawn by the injured girl as a dinosaur.

Second Iteration

The setting switches to a Montana hillside where paleontologist Alan Grant and his assistant, Ellie Sattler, excavate dinosaur remains. A representative of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) arrives, interrupting their work to interview them about the Hammond Foundation and InGen, whom he suspects of engaging in illegal genetic engineering.

The lab tech at Columbia University sends Grant an X-ray of the lizard sample they received. It appears to be a dinosaur.

John Hammond of the Hammond Foundation calls Grant and hires him to consult on a project on the island of Isla Nublar to determine whether investors need to shut the project down for safety reasons. Hammond and Donald Gennaro, Hammond's legal counsel, pick up Grant and Sattler, followed by Dennis Nedry, who designed the island's computer systems, and mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm. They fly to the island, where they see that InGen has cloned dinosaurs and started Jurassic Park.

Meanwhile, InGen's competitor Biosyn decides to steal some of InGen's genetically engineered dinosaur embryos and hires an InGen employee to commit the theft.

Third Iteration

The group begins a tour of Jurassic Park to determine whether the dinosaurs are adequately contained and the park is safe for visitors. Tim and Lex, Hammond's grandchildren, join the group. Park staff members explain where they procured the dinosaur DNA to clone their dinosaurs. The group visits the hatchery, where they see a baby dinosaur and learn that the park has cloned 15 species of dinosaurs. The staff members explain that the dinosaurs can't breed because they are all female. They view a pen full of raptors that are very fast and violent. In the park's control room, staff members explain how they monitor all the dinosaurs.

The group then gets into two automatic, driverless cars to tour the park. They listen to a recorded narration, see a triceratops, and then watch a Tyrannosaurus rex kill a goat. When they move on, Tim sees a raptor loose among the hadrosaurs. However, they can't go back to investigate because the automatic cars only move forward. The tour group stops to watch—and then help—the park veterinarian (vet) treat a sick stegosaur. While they are there, Grant and Sattler find part of a raptor eggshell. This evidence proves the dinosaurs are breeding in the wild, which park staff claimed was impossible. Via radio, Malcolm asks the park staff to set the motion sensors to search for 300 dinosaurs, rather than the 238 they think they have. When they do, they find 292 dinosaurs.

The group splits up, with Sattler staying with the vet to treat the stegosaur. After a short drive, the cars stop because the children claim they saw dinosaurs on a boat leaving the island. They try to radio a warning but can't. Power suddenly goes out across the island, causing the cars to come to a halt. The control room staff try to repower the island, and the game warden prepares to go after the tour group.

Fourth Iteration

Members of the tour group sit in the stopped cars until a T. rex threatens them. Malcolm and Ed Regis—the park's public relations representative—panic and run off into the rainy night. The T. rex attacks the cars, throwing one and kicking another.

Nedry tries to deliver the stolen dinosaur embryos to the boat but gets lost. A dinosaur attacks and kills him.

Tim is knocked unconscious by the T. rex attack. He awakens to find the car suspended in a tree, and climbs down just before it crashes to the ground. Grant locates both Tim and Lex hiding in a drainage pipe. Shortly after, they see a T. rex kill and eat Regis who has been hiding nearby. Grant tries to lead the kids back to the visitor center on foot, and they take shelter in a building overnight. The next morning, they are almost killed when a T. rex scares the hadrosaurs into a stampede. They find a boat and try to take the stream back to the visitor center, but a T. rex gives chase once again and almost kills them.

Park staff drive out to help the tour group and find Malcolm seriously injured by a T. rex. They take him back to the visitor center, where the park engineer tries to get the computer systems back online. Eventually, he figures out how Nedry disabled the system and restores the power. Park workers start repairing the electric fences and herd the dinosaurs back to their enclosures.

Fifth Iteration

As Grant and the kids drift along the river, they near the aviary. Grant decides they should stop to see if the lodge has motion sensors or a phone, but the lodge hasn't been completed. Flying dinosaurs attack them as they head back toward the boat, but they manage to make it to the boat and escape.

Gennaro and Robert Muldoon—the park's game warden—try to recapture the T. rex. Muldoon fires tranquilizing darts at the dinosaur, but the drug has no immediate effect, so they race away in a Jeep.

The river carries Grant and the kids over a waterfall. Grant saves Lex, who can't swim. He hides the kids behind a waterfall while he explores the door behind it. While he's gone, the T. rex sniffs out the kids but passes out from the tranquilizers before it can kill them.

In the control room, park staff realize that when the engineer restarted the systems, he did so on auxiliary power, which is running low. Power shuts down, turning off the electric fences and setting the raptors free. When the park engineer approaches the maintenance shed to restart the power, he is cornered by a pack of raptors. Muldoon and Gennaro rescue the engineer, killing a raptor in the process. The engineer enters the shed, where he is killed by a raptor before he can restart the power.

Sixth Iteration

Grant drives an electric cart back to the visitor center with Tim, Lex, and a tranquilized young, male velociraptor—evidence that the dinosaurs are breeding. When they reach the visitor center, they find it smashed. Via radio, Grant learns that raptors are trying to break into the lodge. Sattler asks Grant to restart the power. Grant leaves the kids in the relative safety of the kitchen. Sattler distracts the raptors so Grant can reach the maintenance shed.

While Grant is gone, a raptor makes its way into the kitchen. Tim tricks the beast into entering a freezer and traps it inside. The children then wander into the control room, where Muldoon tells them via radio what's going on, and Tim tries to get the computer systems back online. While he's working on the system, three raptors enter the building, and the kids have to flee. They escape into the nursery where they find the baby raptor they met early in the tour. When the adult raptors enter, the kids try to distract them with the baby, but the raptors tear it apart. The kids flee while this is happening, then Grant leads the raptors into the lab. He injects dinosaur eggs in the hatchery with poisons from the lab. He poisons one raptor with an egg, then stabs another with one of the syringes.

Gennaro, Grant, and the kids make it to the control room. Tim gets the systems back online. They call the ship just as it is about to dock on Costa Rica's mainland and convince the captain to return to Isla Nublar instead.

Seventh Iteration

The park is back under control. Gennaro wants to call the military to destroy the dinosaurs, but Grant insists they inspect the dinosaur nests personally, so they know how many there are. Gennaro, Sattler, and Grant get weapons and follow the young raptor Grant found earlier to the nest.

Hammond leaves the center to return to his bungalow. When he hears a T. rex roar, he tries to run but falls, hurting his ankle. He calls for help but dinosaurs find and kill him.

Sattler, Gennaro, and Grant inspect the nests, count the eggs, and observe the raptors' intelligent behavior. They follow the raptors to the beach, where they see the dinosaurs react to the passage of a ship and realize the raptors want to migrate. Helicopters land. Soldiers get out and attack the dinosaurs. The survivors get into the helicopter and fly away.

Epilogue: San José

The survivors reach Costa Rica's mainland, where the government holds them in San José. Dr. Guitierrez visits Grant and tells him that unidentified creatures have invaded the coastline and moved into Costa Rica's mountains and jungles.

Jurassic Park Plot Diagram

123456789101112131415ClimaxResolutionIntroductionRising ActionFalling Action


1 Experts go to Jurassic Park to determine the park's safety.

Rising Action

2 Experts and Hammond's grandchildren tour the park.

3 Nedry disables computer system and steals dinosaur embryos.

4 Dinosaurs escape as a result.

5 T. rex attacks tour group and destroys their cars.

6 Nedry gets lost and is eaten by a dinosaur.

7 T. rex kills Regis and injures Malcolm.

8 Raptors escape and attack humans.

9 Tim saves Lex from a raptor.

10 Grant restarts the park's power.


11 Grant saves the kids from several raptors.

Falling Action

12 Tim restarts the park's computer system.

13 Gennaro orders a boat with raptors to return to the island.

14 Hammond injures his ankle and is killed by dinosaurs.


15 Soldiers arrive, evacuate survivors, and kill the dinosaurs.

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