Ted Conover has managed to use fiction to produce a piece of art that gives a reflection of activities that take place in a normal correctional facility. He has managed to paint the picture of a standard prison to push forth his themes. This story is so real and very fascinating. It is simple in structure but with a smooth flow of ideas.
Conover uses humor in a way that makes the story flow easily. The book is very captivating, as the author has used various stylistic devices to structure the story. As Sherman Alexei notes in the review of this book, Conover has successfully brought to surface the culture of American society in one of the most amazing pieces of literature.
Summary for chapter 1: Inside Passage
This chapter introduces us to the main characters and other supportive characters in this novel. We meet Conover, who is the main character. He is has just been integrated into the system of Sing Sing prison, a large correctional facility located in New York. This facility houses over a thousand prisoners. Furthermore, working in this environment is not only daunting but also very dangerous (Conover 6).
However, he manages to fit into the system, though with difficulties. Sergeant Ed Holmes, his immediate superior officer, is far from being friendly. This is shown the first time we meet him. Unlike other officers who were a little more homely, this sergeant takes pleasure in inflicting fear in other officers. The chapter closes when Conover gets to duty to guard the gates of B-Block. He replaces the female officer who then had to take a break.
Analysis for chapter 1
This chapter introduces us to the main theme of this story. We are introduced to a society of American prisoners and prison warders, and the kind of lifestyle they have to live. The main protagonists are introduced and it makes the reader grasp the general focus of what the whole book is about. It successfully introduces us to the subsequent parts of the book.
Summary for chapter 2: School for Jailers
This chapter is a flashback of the time when Conover was recruited to join the forces, as a correctional service officer recruit. Before, he was a journalist with New York Time Magazine.
He finds life at the academy very different from what he was used to, as a civilian. In this academy, he has to put up with Sergeant Rusty Bloom. This instructor is very hash and makes life at the academy very hard. The recruits are categorically informed that they are one another’s keeper. A mistake done by any recruit would result to punishment of the whole group (Conover 13).
The recruits had to maintain cleanliness in their dressing codes and their bodies. Time was a factor at this academy and instructions had to be followed to the letter. At times, Conover would develop melancholic mood when he thought the comfort at home and the lectures he would give to others. He would develop a sense of nostalgia when he thought of the family. However, he had to be here and complete his course.
Analysis for chapter 2
The author has used this chapter as a summary of what takes place at the training school for correctional service officers. He has used a flash back in this chapter to give a reflection of what it was like when Conover was at the training center. This chapter is important as it introduces us to the path that transformed Conover from a civilian to a uniformed officer. It also introduces the reader to the language used by these officers.
Summary for chapter 3: up the river
In this chapter, Conover and other graduates from Albany Training College are taken to Sing Sing prison for on-job training. Officially, this would last for four weeks. However, the conventional time would be one year before an officer would be confirmed. At first, this facility seemed fascinating to new officers. They had the opportunity to be at the famous Sing Sing Maximum Correction Facility. They had some information concerning the prison.
They were stationed at different departments in the facility. They would later be taken to classes where they would be given further instructions on how to handle inmates and avoid their manipulations. As time went by, Conover started developing some sense of boredom. The fact that they had to follow some instructions daily was boring. However, the fact that he would be close to going back home was reassuring (Conover 54).
Analysis for chapter 3
This chapter is a smooth continuation of chapter two. The author has ensured a flow of story. It takes us back to Sing Sing Correctional Facility. The author makes a clear description of this environment from the perspective of the recently introduced officers. The feeling created in this chapter is so real. The recruits were eager to be at this facility, but after a short while, the feeling of boredom comes in when they realize that they have to follow the instructions on a daily basis.
This book has successfully brought out the picture of the correctional facilities in the United States. The first three chapters give environments of Albany Training Academy, and that of Sing Sing Maximum Security Facility. It draws attention of the reader and arouses the desire to obtain more information.
Conover, Ted. Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing New York: Random House, 2000. Print.