Luke Jackson

Luke Jackson

    Cool Hand Luke
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Character Analysis

(Avoiding Spoilers)

Living… in a Florida prison camp, where he’s serving two years for cutting the tops off of parking meters. Why did he do it? As Luke tells it, “Small town, not much to do in the evenin'.” The guards are strict, and there’s an established pecking order among the prisoners, with fellow inmate Dragline at the top. 

Profession… manual laborer. Every day brings more manual work, and more pressure to conform. But Luke likes things interesting. He refuses to follow the unspoken rules or bow his head to anyone.

Interests… planning different ways of escaping. Who wants to stay in a dump like this? Luke knows he doesn’t belong there; it's obvious they don't even want him there, and it's his right to at least try and get out. Then they can try to catch him. As long as it's fair, it's all right with Luke.

Relationship Status… single, and not happy. He hasn’t seen a real woman in God knows how long. It’s driving him crazy. Luke assumed he’d get to a point where he’d stop caring, but that doesn't seem to be happening. Prison didn’t change that part of him.

Challenge… refusing to let the warden and his crew think they've broken his spirit. The guys here count on Luke to stay afloat. If he can make it to the end of the day, they think they can, too. That doesn’t mean Luke’s living for anybody else, but mattering to people matters to him. He doesn’t want to let them down.

Personality… determined, individualistic, and tough. As Dragline puts it, “That's my darling Luke. He grins like a baby, but bites like a gator.” Luke might not go looking for trouble, but he doesn’t let anyone tell him what to do. As a result, he's become something of a hero to the other prisoners, much against his own intentions.


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