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Jurassic Park | Study Guide

Michael Crichton

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Jurassic Park | Prologue: The Bite of the Raptor | Summary

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Summary

In the Prologue, readers are introduced to Dr. Roberta "Bobbie" Carter. Dr. Carter is spending two months in the Costa Rican village of Bahía Anasco as a visiting doctor. During a raging storm, a helicopter lands and people climb out, calling for medical assistance. Three men approach; two of them are carrying a fourth individual. One of the men, Ed Regis, tells Dr. Carter the injured man has been hurt in a construction accident.

Dr. Carter is suspicious. The man's injuries resemble those from an animal attack more than mechanical trauma. Cuts on his hands seem to be defensive wounds, but Regis nervously insists he was run over by a backhoe. As the orderly, Manuel Aragón, rinses the wounds, Carter takes photographs to document the patient's injuries. The man mumbles a few words: "raptor" and "lo sa raptor." Manuel first says the terms aren't Spanish, then identifies one, "raptor," as meaning "hupia," a dangerous local ghost. The patient suddenly convulses, vomiting. Carter is about to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation when her orderly stops her, warning her it will allow the symbolic hupia to cross from the dying man into her body.

When the worker dies Regis and his men take the body. Once they leave, Carter realizes they stole her camera with the pictures of the wounds. Carter asks Elena Morales, a native midwife, what the term "raptor" means. She says it is someone who steals children, and asks her not to mention it while her patient, who is in labor, is nearby. Carter looks up "raptor" in her English dictionary, and finds it means "bird of prey."

Analysis

The Prologue introduces themes, symbols and motifs that run throughout the novel. The first is hubris—an overdeveloped and dangerous arrogance, represented by the high-handed and dishonest way corporations handle personal interaction. Ed Regis, InGen's public relations person, interacts dishonestly with Dr. Roberta Carter, dismissing her inquiries into the cause of the worker's injuries, which limits the quality of care the injured man receives. Lying about the nature of the man's injuries and the theft of Carter's camera indicate the company's arrogance and desire to completely control interactions.

The symbol of the hupia is represented in the fear of the unknown or of the supernatural. Manuel Aragón becomes fearful that something supernatural is involved in the incident at the clinic because the extent and the odor of the worker's injuries are beyond his realm of experience. He prefers to believe in ghosts than in something for which he has no explanation.

Finally, the Prologue introduces the motifs of signs or patterns. These will be crucial throughout the novel. Dr. Carter is the first to interpret signs in an important way: she can tell the injured man was attacked, not hurt in an accident. Characters such as Alan Grant, Ian Malcolm, Ellie Sattler, and Robert Muldoon will advance the plot by correctly reading various signs and patterns.

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