Character Sketch of Evans in Evans Tries an O- Level

In the humorous and intriguing short story “Evans Tries an O-Level” by Colin Dexter, the character of Evans takes center stage as a clever and audacious individual. This character sketch aims to explore the nuances of Evans’ persona, his wit, and the unexpected turns that make him a memorable protagonist in this comedic tale.

Overview of Evans:

  1. Prisoner on Remand: Evans is introduced as a prisoner on remand at HMP (Her Majesty’s Prison) Longmoor.
  2. Prior Criminal Record: Evans has a history of criminal activities, and his past is marked by a series of clever, if not entirely legal, exploits.
  3. Quick-Witted and Resourceful: Evans is quick-witted and resourceful, traits that become apparent as he navigates the challenges presented by the O-Level exam.
  4. Educational Aspirations: Despite his criminal background, Evans harbors aspirations for education and sees the O-Level exam as an opportunity to achieve his goals.
  5. Artful Disguise: Evans employs an artful disguise, adopting the persona of “Jackson” to participate in the exam without the knowledge of the prison authorities.
  6. Ability to Forge Relationships: Evans demonstrates an ability to forge relationships, enlisting the help of fellow inmates and even gaining the support of the prison’s education officer, Dr. Bramwell.
  7. Meticulous Planning: Evans engages in meticulous planning to execute his scheme, showcasing his strategic thinking and attention to detail.
  8. Charm and Persuasion: Evans uses charm and persuasion to win over those around him, from fellow prisoners to the prison staff, manipulating situations to his advantage.
  9. Commitment to Education: Despite his criminal endeavors, Evans exhibits a genuine commitment to education, challenging stereotypes and expectations.
  10. Unpredictable Nature: Evans’ character remains unpredictable, keeping readers on their toes as his audacious plan unfolds.

Evans: The Cunning Conundrum:

  1. Prisoner on Remand: Evans’ introduction as a prisoner on remand immediately establishes a tension between his criminal past and the audacious plan he is about to unfold. This duality becomes a central theme in the story.
  2. Prior Criminal Record: Evans’ history of criminal activities hints at a life marked by clever exploits and a penchant for bending the rules. His past becomes a source of intrigue, prompting readers to question his motivations.
  3. Quick-Witted and Resourceful: Evans’ quick-witted nature and resourcefulness are evident from the beginning. These qualities become instrumental as he navigates the challenges of preparing for and taking the O-Level exam under a false identity.
  4. Educational Aspirations: Despite his troubled background, Evans’ desire for education is a surprising and humanizing element of his character. This aspiration adds depth to his personality, challenging stereotypes associated with individuals in similar circumstances.
  5. Artful Disguise: The adoption of the persona “Jackson” showcases Evans’ ability to craft an artful disguise. This element of his character adds a layer of suspense and intrigue to the narrative.
  6. Ability to Forge Relationships: Evans’ skill in forging relationships becomes a key element in executing his plan. His interactions with fellow inmates and Dr. Bramwell reveal his capacity to win people over, highlighting the charm that is central to his character.
  7. Meticulous Planning: Evans’ meticulous planning is a testament to his strategic thinking. The careful preparation for the exam, from creating a disguise to coordinating with fellow prisoners, showcases his ability to anticipate challenges and find solutions.
  8. Charm and Persuasion: Evans’ charm and powers of persuasion are on full display as he gains the support of those around him. Whether it’s convincing fellow prisoners to assist him or winning over Dr. Bramwell, Evans uses these qualities to manipulate situations in his favor.
  9. Commitment to Education: Despite his unconventional approach, Evans’ commitment to education challenges preconceived notions. His pursuit of academic goals within the confines of a prison setting adds an unexpected layer of complexity to his character.
  10. Unpredictable Nature: Evans’ character remains unpredictable throughout the story. His actions, motivations, and the ultimate outcome of his audacious plan keep readers engaged and contribute to the comedic and suspenseful nature of the narrative.


In “Evans Tries an O-Level,” Colin Dexter crafts a character in Evans who defies expectations and challenges conventional narratives. Evans, with his cunning, quick-witted nature, and commitment to education, becomes a central figure in a story that combines elements of humor, suspense, and social commentary.

Evans’ audacious attempt to take an O-Level exam from within prison walls is more than a mere caper; it is a reflection of the human desire for self-improvement and the unexpected places one might find resilience and determination. The story of Evans serves as a reminder that individuals are complex, often defying easy categorization.

As readers follow Evans on his unconventional journey, they are invited to question societal assumptions about education, criminality, and the potential for personal growth. Evans, with his unpredictability and resourcefulness, becomes a character who leaves a lasting impression—an enigma within the prison walls, challenging both the system and the expectations placed upon individuals like him.

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