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Jurassic Park | Study Guide

Michael Crichton

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Jurassic Park | Seventh Iteration: Chapters 52–58 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 52: Destroying the World

As they move Ian Malcolm to a different room, John Hammond remarks how lucky they were about the event winding down without destroying the planet. Malcolm rants about how arrogant this is, and states the planet will be fine regardless of what humans do. Technology threatens humans, not the planet.

Chapter 53: Under Control

Four hours after the power is restored, the park reaches a new equilibrium. Instead of 292 animals, the sensors now register 203. In the aftermath, Donald Gennaro is ready to call for the military to destroy the entire island. Alan Grant argues it isn't enough: they have to find the dinosaur nests, and take personal responsibility for destroying them after counting the eggs, so they know exactly how many dinosaurs to look for.

Tim Murphy comes across an unmarked room. Grant and the others find weapons there, including grenades and nerve gas. They put a tagged collar on the young raptor Grant found and track it to the nesting grounds. Grant insists on going down into the nest.

Chapter 54: Almost Paradigm

In the lodge Hammond and Malcolm wait anxiously to hear the results of the expedition. Hammond tends to Malcolm, whose flesh has begun to rot. Hammond leaves the lodge, and while walking to his bungalow nods to one of the workers. Both men hear the roar of the juvenile T. rex and run. Hammond trips and falls, injuring his ankle. When he hears the dinosaur's roar again, Hammond realizes it is his grandchildren, playing with sound effects in the control room. Hammond is very close to his bungalow, but he can't make it due to his injury. He calls for help.

Chapter 55: Descent

Ellie Sattler and Donald Gennaro follow Grant down a dark tunnel into the raptor nest. There they see about 30 raptors of varying ages. They find three distinct nests in the larger colony, and count the eggs. Grant and Sattler observe patterned behavior among the raptors, and speculate on what it means.

Chapter 56: Hammond

Hammond is still in the jungle where he sits down to rest. He's hot, thirsty, and in pain. He hears hooting. Compys emerge from the bushes. Hammond tries to drive them away so he can escape. The compys knock Hammond down and attack him.

Chapter 57: The Beach

Grant and Sattler follow the raptors though a cavern to the beach. When a freighter goes by, the raptors become agitated. Grant realizes they want to migrate to the mainland.

Chapter 58: Approaching Dark

Grant and Sattler are happy at the marked intelligence the raptors demonstrate. Then helicopters appear and the raptors scatter. The helicopters land and soldiers get out. An officer tries to find someone in charge. Robert Muldoon helps everyone into the helicopters, and summarizes the fate of the others: Hammond and Malcolm are dead. The helicopters fly away, and Grant watches as explosions begin destroying the island.

Analysis

Michael Crichton comes close to preaching at several points in the novel, and he does so through several characters. Robert Muldoon gets an occasional sermon when he complains about John Hammond's choice to not fund weapons for the park. However, the main messages are found in the Introduction, in Alan Grant's statements on responsibility, and in Ian Malcolm's increasingly impassioned rants, like those in Chapter 52. The pain Malcolm is in and their increasingly desperate situation give Malcolm the freedom to denounce the park and the attitude behind it with more volume and intensity. These rants are entertaining, but they also point to key thematic points, like the way humans mistake their fates for the fate of the planet. The theme of hubris and the motif of sight are addressed here.

The restoring of the power in Chapter 53 brings a kind of resolution to the core plot questions. The humans are back in charge, but almost a third of the dinosaurs died in the slaughter that took place when they weren't. This is a quiet way of emphasizing just how unnatural the park's imposed balance was before. Grant also finally explains why it is so important that the dinosaurs have frog DNA: some frogs change sex in response to environmental demand. That's a breathtakingly specific scientific detail. It shows once again how broad and nuanced Grant's knowledge base is. It is also one of the places where Crichton lets his desire to create suspense distort the realism in his novel. Grant had raised this issue early on in the novel. Doing so created suspense, but surely Grant would have found the 10 seconds needed to explain this detail to Dr. Henry Wu then, rather than waiting until after the slaughter.

Throughout the narrative the ability to read signs and patterns correctly has been crucial, such as Malcolm's ability to read the population graphs, or Ellie Sattler's recognition of the stones near the stegosaur as gizzard stones. In Chapter 54 Hammond shows a complete inability to read signs correctly. He is responsible for a system in which dinosaur sounds are recorded, and he knows the park sometimes uses T. rex recordings to spook other dinosaurs in order to get them to move. However, in this case, out of context, Hammond responds no better than a frightened prehistoric herbivore. It's also a kind of karma: Hammond brought the kids here himself, and their playful use of his technology now contributes to his death.

One of the best-known story structures is the hero's journey. This structure has several distinct stages, and these stages produce growth in the hero who passes through them. According to the American writer Christopher Vogler, one key stage is the approach to the "inmost cave," when the hero passes through a cavern or enclosed space, facing literal or metaphorical death. In Chapter 55, Grant, Sattler, and Gennaro move into a literal tunnel, facing possible death at the raptors' claws.

This chapter answers additional core plot questions: the raptors are breeding, and Grant was correct about how many nests they had built.

One benefit of science and technology is how they allow people to occupy a higher place in the food chain than their physical gifts would allow. Chapter 56 shows what happens when these technological aids break down or are taken away. With the tools that technology (and money) can provide, Hammond was in charge of the park and could decide which dinosaurs lived and died. Without these tools, Hammond is, as he himself realizes, walking prey.

Chapter 57 displays odd behavior on the part of Grant. For him to realize only at this stage that the raptors are smart enough to want to migrate seems inconsistent, because he had seen raptors stow away on the boat earlier in the novel.

In Chapter 58 Sattler and Grant's joy at seeing the raptors' intelligence reminds readers that scientists are human and harbor a passion for their subjects. These dinosaur lovers are happy to see just how intelligent the raptors are, even though that intelligence endangers them. Readers have already seen the tension between the scientific community and the market economy. Now the tension is within the scientific community, between the scientists' interest in science for its own sake, and their recognition of the greater good to civilization, which will not be well served by the experiment.

The urgency with which the soldiers seek someone in charge shows how poorly the military mind and most conventional approaches fit genuinely complex situations. The soldiers assume there is a working chain of command and a hierarchical organization—and that someone is atop both. By contrast, Grant's flat denial that anyone is in charge shows how well he understands the situation.

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