Monday, September 20, 2010

The Calculated Juxtaposition of Scenes in Escape From Alcatraz

In the first three chapters of J. Campbell Bruce’s novel Escape
from Alcatraz, the author uses a distinct juxtaposition between
the storyline of chapter one, and the storyline of chapter

In chapter one, after the introduction to distinct
characteristics of a mystery prisoner being transported to the
federal penitentiary at Alcatraz, the reader finally finds out
that his name is Frank Lee Morris. The last half dozen
paragraphs of the chapter center on the myriad possibilities of
escape from Alcatraz; imagined by the described “escape artist,”
Morris. Each possibility one by one is abolished by the
maximum-security nature of the setting. It’s somewhat comical
because arguably the most difficult way of escaping alive from
Alcatraz would be swimming to shore in the freezing cold waters
of the San Francisco Bay. This part of the escape is not
mentioned, and in italics it reads: “How in the name of God can
anyone possibly get out of here? (7)” The chapter ends with a
vow by Morris that he would find a way to escape Alcatraz.

In chapter three, the juxtapositions in description and
storyline are evident in Campbell Bruce’s writing. He used
Warden Johnston to contrast with the character of Morris as a
humanitarian and prime intellectual, instead of a criminal
mastermind. But, the most obvious contrast is the juxtaposition
of Morris’ thoughts of escape and Johnston’s ideas of a
maximum-security fortress with no chance of escape. Paragraph
after paragraph exemplified the shear impossibility of escape by
prisoners, and the elaborate nature of Alcatraz’s security under
the new Warden. The chapter ends in similar contrast to the
chapter one with the sentence: “‘It was made clear that the
prisoners, the most vicious and desperate in the country will
not escape from Alcatraz (21).” Campbell Bruce’s calculated
writing style is well done and exciting to read. The contrast
of characters and ideas enhance the reader’s imagination of what
is to come next.

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