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Jurassic Park | Study Guide

Michael Crichton

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Jurassic Park | Symbols



Poison symbolizes fatal ignorance in the novel. In "The Shape of the Data," the lab identifies poison in the bites in Tina Bowman's arm just before Dr. Richard Stone rejects the idea that the lizard that bit the girl could have been a dinosaur. The symbol appears again when the visiting experts arrive at Jurassic Park. Ed Regis proudly shows off "authentic Jurassic ferns." However, he does not realize, as Ellie Sattler does, that these plants are poisonous, and he is therefore literally guiding visitors down a poisonous path.

Two scenes in particular show the connection between poison and ignorance. The first is the death of Dennis Nedry. Nedry dies because he is unaware dilophosaurs spit poison. The dinosaurs spit poison in Nedry's face, blinding him so they can kill him. The second scene occurs as Alan Grant fights off the raptors in the "Lodge" chapter. He injects dinosaur eggs with poison, but the raptors are, at that point, locked into instinctive responses. One eats an egg and dies from it.

The Hupia

The hupia spirits represent a threat to children. The hupia appear in the Prologue, when Dr. Roberta Carter is trying to figure out what the injured man she is treating is talking about. He says, "raptor," which her paramedic Manuel Aragón explains means "hupia." These are a kind of "night ghost" or "faceless vampire" who come in the night to steal children. Manuel also says the smell coming from the injured man is the hupia, meaning it is unnatural. No one mentions these hupia later in the book, but this early introduction establishes a symbolic link between dinosaurs and these dark supernatural creatures. Neither belong in the modern world, and both possess hidden powers the technological world is not ready to address, powers that threaten those who are vulnerable.

Military Architecture

The symbol of military architecture indicates the danger that comes from ignoring consequences. Jurassic Park is supposed to be an entertainment attraction. However, the lodges in which visitors to the park are expected to stay have been retrofitted into a kind of military structure. When Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler first arrive at the lodge, they immediately notice that the park builders have had to change their plans. Windows are smaller than those found at typical resorts, the glass is tempered, doors are lined with steel, and there are fences around all the buildings. This is not the park it was meant to be: Jurassic Park is under siege.

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