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Jurassic Park | Study Guide

Michael Crichton

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Jurassic Park | Quotes


Stone continued to shake his head. Alice was uninformed; she was just a technician.

Narrator, Chapter 5

Michael Crichton's objective narrator dips into Dr. Richard Stone's mind to show him dismissing Alice Levin's correct observation that the drawing the injured girl made of the lizard that bit her was, in fact, a dinosaur. This is one of many places in the novel where Crichton is intensely economical in his exposition and plot construction. In dismissing Alice's observation because she lacks official credentials, Stone demonstrates some of the narrow, socially structured limits on science. Here, as elsewhere in the novel, dismissing empirical knowledge is dangerous; if Stone had listened, this would have averted many of the issues with the park.


He knew that all the important work in paleontology was done outdoors, with your hands.

Narrator, Chapter 6

The narrator describes Alan Grant as he reflects on the nature of paleontology when Bob Morris of the EPA arrives to interview him. This line summarizes Grant's character, and explains why he is so suited to survive in Jurassic Park once things go bad. However, it is also a focused commentary on the nature of knowledge and sums up this novel's position on science: genuine knowledge comes from personal experience and hands-on interaction.


The age is a problem.

Alan Grant, Chapter 7

Alan Grant makes this observation to Ellie Sattler when they're trying to determine if the lizard specimen could be a real dinosaur. Both of them are aware of other species that have been rediscovered in the past, but the problem here is that this species lived in an earlier prehistoric period. It is unlikely a species would survive undetected and unchanged for so long.

There's a second meaning to this line, however. Age is a problem throughout the novel. John Hammond's grandchildren are a problem because of their age: if they were younger, they would not have been sent to the island, nor would they be so vulnerable if they were older. Age is also a problem for Hammond; he feels entitled because of his age and, once the dinosaurs are loose, he is physically vulnerable because of his age.


It looks kind of distorted ... but I don't think it's the computer.

Graduate student, Chapter 9

The unnamed graduate student is referring to how the dinosaur's body appears to be twisted. It looks distorted, as if the animal is in agony. But as Alan Grant points out, this is just the effect of time. Time changes things and makes people see things differently, both literally and conceptually.


I always maintained this island would be unworkable ... I predicted it from the beginning.

Ian Malcolm, Chapter 14

This is one of Ian Malcolm's many predictions about Jurassic Park. It is clear, direct, and unmistakable. Because the park builders went ahead despite this prediction, it means they are proceeding in defiance of science.


There is a problem with that island. It is an accident waiting to happen.

Ian Malcolm, Chapter 14

Throughout this novel, Ian Malcolm operates like a prophet from Greek myth. He sees the future and describes what will happen literally and directly, but no one listening to him understands. Because they don't take him seriously, they end up creating the disaster he warns about.

This also operates on the plot level: it is a very direct foreshadowing, a prediction of disaster.


He was looking at a dinosaur.

Narrator, Chapter 15

After pages of anticipation, Alan Grant finally sees a living dinosaur. The directness of this line fits with the directness of Grant's character.


Nature is ... a complex system of far greater subtlety than we are willing to accept.

Ian Malcolm, Chapter 18

Ian Malcolm's line comes in the middle of a fairly extensive denunciation of Jurassic Park and a prediction that it will fail. This specific line does several things. First, it punctures humanity's tendency to think about nature reductively. As Malcolm points out, nature is very complicated. Second, he hammers home the point that nature is a system. The entire Jurassic Park project acts as if nature were not an interdependent system, but a technology that humans can tinker with as they choose. Third, the final phrase hammers home another key point: people are not willing to see nature as it is, as a complex system. And as a complex system, nature is vulnerable to disruption.


They were piles of gizzard stones.

Narrator, Chapter 27

This sums up a key point. In identifying these stones, Ellie Sattler and Alan Grant diagnose the sick stegosaurus. This establishes the two scientists as the best authorities for dealing with the complexities of Jurassic Park because they are able to reach an accurate conclusion, even though Dr. Gerald Harding has examined the animal for far longer without reaching a diagnosis.


Can you have the computer search for a different number of animals?

Ian Malcolm, Chapter 28

When Ian Malcolm asks this seemingly simple question, he exposes the fallacies in the staff's assumptions about their technology and the park itself. John Arnold resets the sensors as requested, eventually producing a total of 292 dinosaurs when the staff thought they had only 238. This reveals how incomplete their knowledge of their own creation is, and how poorly they monitor it.


He ... calls this speeding-up movement the Malcolm Effect. The whole system could suddenly collapse.

John Arnold, Chapter 41

This is part of John Arnold's explanation of Ian Malcolm's theories and the Malcolm Effect. After Arnold explains the Malcolm Effect, he rejects it. This mindset fits well with what Malcolm calls "thintelligence."


They don't have intelligence. They have what I call 'thintelligence.'

Ian Malcolm, Chapter 45

Ian Malcolm says this to Ellie Sattler as part of his extended denunciation of science. This limited mental focus is why John Hammond and his staff fail to understand that the park is destined to fail.


They want to migrate.

Alan Grant, Chapter 57

Alan Grant says this to Donald Gennaro when they observe the raptors responding to the passage of a freighter. His realization confirms just how intelligent the raptors are and how much of a threat they pose: they know they're trapped on the island and are planning an escape.


All the animals had vanished. It was as if they had never existed.

Narrator, Chapter 58

This brief sequence follows the moment when helicopters full of soldiers land on the beach. It is literally true: any animal would run from this sort of loud intrusion. However, coming as it does so close to the end of the book, and after the park has fallen apart, it is also a quietly poetic commentary on the entire novel. Dinosaurs in the modern world? That seems impossible; they couldn't exist. It makes the novel seem like a dream. It fits well with the brief, impossible glimpses of dinosaurs Alan Grant sees as he flies away in a helicopter.


None of us is going anywhere.

Dr. Marty Guitierrez, Epilogue: San José

This is the last line of dialogue in the novel. It brings the book full circle and inverts some of its key aspects. At the start of the novel, the people from Jurassic Park and the Hammond Foundation traveled at will. They went wherever they pleased and believed they controlled their creations. There was minimal government oversight. The dinosaurs, on the other hand, were contained on the island (or, at least, they were supposed to be). Now, though, the surviving humans are contained, and much more effectively than the dinosaurs had ever been. Governments are fully active and repeatedly ask the same questions, trying to make sense of what happened. They can't, and so Alan Grant and the others are stuck there, perhaps forever.

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