61 Hours: Theme
61 Hours is the fourteenth book in the hugely successful Jack Reacher series, written by Lee Child. It was published on 18 March 2010 both in the United Kingdom and in the USA, and is a narrative-style description of Reacher’s exploits within the remote and isolated city of Bolton. The story follows a basic thriller-type format, while constantly prolonging a conclusion to increase the depth of the story entirely. The book is often considered a canonical representation of discernment as well as the modern judiciary system, and begins to highlight the major issues within the latter. The following paragraphs will begin to enlighten the reader with multiple insights regarding the themes of the book, and will hopefully clarify to the reader it’s importance within the story.
Unlike many modern works of fiction, 61 Hours tends to focus around one theme, rather than multiple, arguably cliché and established themes such as the importance of friendship, or perhaps love. The story highlights the importance of justice, a theme for which incorporates multiple themes such as courage is essential to success, the importance of discernment etc. For the sake of efficiency, if I was to generalize the theme, to refine the theme so that it would resonate throughout a single line, it would be that one must always stand for good against evil, to put the world to rights, or as Reacher commonly states, “I don’t want to put the world to rights… I just don’t like people who put the world to wrongs.” (Child, 257)
As mentioned above, the story takes place in a remote, isolated city within the state of South Dakota, known as Bolton. The city is described by Child as extremely cold and dreary.
“Freezing air blew in, with thick swirls of snow on it. Like a regular blizzard.” (Child, 27)
The sentence is brief, yet surprisingly concise. Child begins to explain to the reader the severity of Reacher’s situation, who is now trapped in the city due to an accident involving his bus. While I will refrain from explaining the plot to a greater depth, the character that best resonates the theme mentioned above is surprisingly not Reacher, however, is a 70 year old woman willing to testify before law, and thus, puts her life in danger.
“One brave woman is standing up for justice. If she’s going to live to testify, she’ll need help from a man like Reacher. Because there’s a killer coming for her.” (Child, Summary).
The summary connects the plot well with the theme, displaying how the theme plays a major role in the general plot of the story, and implies the possible story line. The situation is key to understanding the theme, as the scenario highlights the flaws within our modern judiciary system. Due to certain reasons unaware to the reader, the case is either prolonged or postponed (Child refrains from informing the reader of which reason is accurate), and thus, the witness, a 60 year old woman named Janet Salter, is under threat from a Mexican drug lord, alias Plato, involved in prostitution, human and arms trafficking etc., determined to eliminate any witnesses with possible information regarding his cartel. Reacher is later tasked with protecting this woman’s life at all costs, however, the real hero would seemingly be Janet Salter. She is by no means obliged to testify, yet for justice, she chooses to do so.
Justice is blind to race, religion, and color, however, sometimes, justice can be blind to the people who choose to participate within the system, so blind that it instead promotes a bad sense of discernment, and cruel manipulation. Our modern system is laden with flaws so severe it damages our world as a whole. As an Indian, I truly understand the flaws within our modern judiciary system. The Indian court still remain largely patriarchal, and bribery is extremely common. Men and women with higher position on the social ladder are rarely penalized, and instead are essentially allowed to participate in whatever activity they please.
In short, while 61 Hours consists largely of a single theme, it’s importance is undeniable. Without a good sense of discernment and justice, our society will collapse, along with the members. Lee Child brilliantly explains the above with a beautifully smooth and intriguing method of story-telling, constantly griping the reader, and presenting new surprises on every page. However, while the flaws within our judicial system are displayed to great detail, a world without any form of justice is simply incomprehensible, and without it, the human race may have died out a long time ago.