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Evans Tries An O-Level by Colin Dexter About the Author

Colin Dexter (29 September 1930 – 21 March 2017) is a British crime writer who is known for ‘Inspector Endeavour Morse’ who appears in detective novels authored by him. These novels written between 1975 and 1999 were adopted as a television series from 1987 to 2000. Dexter has received many awards and accolades, including two Silver Draggers, two ‘Gold Draggers’ and a ‘Cartier Diamond Dragger’ for lifetime achievement in 1997. He was conferred with the 1996 Macavity Award for his story ‘Evans Tries an O-level’. In the year 2000, he was appointed an ‘Officer of the Order of British Empire’ for his services to literature.

Author Name Colin Dexter
Born 29 September 1930, Stamford, United Kingdom
Died 21 March 2017, Oxford, United Kingdom
Spouse Dorothy Cooper (m. 1956–2017)
Movies and TV shows Inspector Lewis, Endeavour, Inspector Morse, Inspector Morse: Service of All the Dead
Nationality British
Evans Tries An O-Level Summary by Colin Dexter
Evans Tries An O-Level Summary by Colin Dexter

Evans Tries An O-Level Introduction to the Chapter

The story, “Evans Tries An 0-Level”, written by Colin Dexter is an interesting story depicting how a prisoner called James Evans befools all the officers of the prison to escape under a well-laid out plan. Despite the best efforts of the prison authorities, Evans is able to escape. In this battle of wits between him and the prison authorities, he has the last laugh.

Evans Tries An O-Level Theme

This story talks about a criminal Evans who is known as a prison-breaker. The prison officials make huge efforts to keep Evans in prison, but he eventually escapes successfully. Though he outwits the officials, they marvel at his ingenuity and wisdom.

Evans Tries An O-Level Summary in English

Evans is a prison-breaker who is used to having the last laugh. After breaking out of prison thrice, he is in prison for the fourth time. He decides to break away and is again successful. He did so by desiring to have some sort of academic qualification while serving his imprisonment. For this, he wanted to take the O-level examination in German. A German teacher would come to teach him for ten months in the prison. After that, the examination is arranged in his cell itself. A person called McLeery is called to invigilate for the exam. The Governor himself supervises all security arrangements lest the prisoner might escape during the exam. Two prison officers were deputed to keep an eye on him. The person left with all the papers after the exam got over.

However, later it was discovered that Evans had escaped in the guise of the parson. Evans had badly wounded the parson behind the prison cell. The parson tells that he knew where Evans might be found. At once, he was sent in a police van to catch the prisoner. Since the parson was bleeding profusely, he was taken to a hospital on the way. Later, it was found that no wounded parson had ever come to the hospital. Now, it was known and realised that Evans had not escaped in the guise of the parson McLeery. He had stayed in and befooled the entire prison staff.

The blood flowing from his head had not been his own blood. It was rather pig’s blood that McLeery had cleverly managed to bring in. Similarly, McLeery was not the parson. The real parson McLeery was tied by some men in his room since morning. Towards the end of the story, the Governor got hold of Evans in a hotel room. Handcuffed, Evans was sent away with a prison officer in the prison van.

Once again, Evans got the better of the Governor. Both the prison officer and the prison van had been part of the plan mastered by Evans’ friends. Evans had been able to escape from prison three times earlier also. Once again, he became a free bird. Due to this reason, the prison officers used to call him ‘Evans the Break’.

Evans Tries An O-Level Main Characters in the Chapter


He is a pleasant young man. He has not done any violence. He is good at imitation and had been part of Christmas concerts. He is a kleptomaniac. He is called a prison-breaker, since he had escaped prison thrice with the help of his couple of friends. He is sharp-witted.

The Governor

An officer of average intelligence but over-confident. Poor judge of character.


Senior prison officer. Kind-hearted man. Not an intelligent person and is gullible. Poor judge of character. Takes delight in ordering people around.


New recruit. Takes orders without thinking.

Reverend Me Leery

Supposed to supervise Evans German O-Level Exam.

Evans Tries An O-Level Summary Questions and Answers

Question 1.
How did McLeery explain the semi-inflated rubber ring in his suitcase? How was the ring ultimately used?
McLeery carried a brown suitcase with him into the examination room which consisted of all. that he would need for his examination duties. However, when asked to explain what the semi-inflated rubber ring was for, he told the authorities that he suffered from Haemorrhoids and therefore, needed the ring to sit on as he was not comfortable sitting for long period.

Question 2.
Who do you think has outwitted the other—Evans or the Governor? How?
Undoubtedly, Evans outwitted the Governor in the end. The Governor after decoding the numbers given in the question paper was able to recapture Evans, but the latter was again able to give a slip to the prison officials.

Question 3.
What clues did the answer sheet of Evans provide to the Governor?
The clues left on the question paper were actually part of a well-laid outplan. It was meant to mislead the police and kind of mock at them. The clue pointed out that Evans had hit McLeery though it was Evans who was impersonating McLeery. This also made the police look for Evans in Newburry, when he was in fact at Hotel Golden Lion in Chipping Norton.

Question 4.
How did the Governor react to the two phone calls he received in quick succession?
The Governor reacted sharply but in a positive way. He was informed by the secretary for modern languages that there was a correction slip to be informed to the candidate. He allows and the correction is explained to Evans. He does not doubt anything.

Question 5.
Who was Carter? What did the Governor ask him to do?
Carter was the detective superintendent. The Governor told him to take McLeery along with him. He took McLeery with him to look for the absconder. The Governor then asked who had seen Evans out at the prison gate. Mr Stephen told him that it was he who had taken him out.

Question 6.
What were the contents of the small brown suitcase that McLeery carried?
The contents of the small brown suitcase that McLeery carried were a sealed question paper envelope, a yellow invigilation form, a special ‘authentication’ card from the Examination Board, a paper knife, a Bible, a copy of ‘The Church Times’ and a small semi-inflated rubber ring.

Question 7.
What did the Detective Superintendent inform the Governor about Evans?
McLeery had spotted Evans drive off along Elsfield Way. They had got the number of the car and had given chase immediately. But they had lost track and assumed that Evans must have come back into the city.

Question 8.
Who do you think made the call to announce a correction in the question paper? What was its purpose?
One of Evans’ accomplices would have called impersonating as the Assistant Secretary from the examination board. The real purpose was to include information about the escape plan.

Question 9.
What could the Governor have done to securely bring Evans back to the prison from the ‘Golden Lion’?
The Governor could have brought the police force with him. Another thing that he could have done was to travel in the van that was taking Evans back to the prison. He should have also checked the credentials of the officials escorting him to the prison.

Question 10.
How does Evans escape from the jail?
Evans decided to appear for O-level Examination in German. For the same, the Governor sought permission from the Board. McLeery the parson from St. Mary Mags came to invigilate. In reality, he was an accomplice of Evans and had imprisoned the real parson. In the cell, the two exchange places. This was made possible because Evans had covered himself in a blanket. At the end of the exam, Evans walks out a free man disguised as the parson.