J. P. Shanley

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 196

Rod Serling, whose compactly constructed television drama, "Patterns," was acclaimed three months ago, turned to a different kind of theme in "The Rack."

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In "Patterns" Serling dealt with high pressure business tactics and their effects on a group of executives. In "The Rack" he borrowed from contemporary history and told the story of an Army captain charged with collaborating with the enemy in North Korea….

["The Rack"] was not written with the expert conciseness that distinguished "Patterns," nor was it so flawlessly presented. There were some uneven moments in "The Rack," but its principal theme was controversial and compelling.

It posed a question that has been asked recently in similar non-fictional situations: Shall a repatriated prisoner of war be punished for acts he has committed under duress while in captivity?…

"The Rack" was particularly effective when its author, probing beyond normal codes and standards of conduct, considered the complex human factors that operate when the minds and bodies of men are subjected to cruel and relentless pressures. Serling was not willing to settle for superficial melodrama. His play was intelligent and provocative.

J. P. Shanley, "Trial for Treason," in The New York Times, Section 2, April 17, 1955, p. 15.

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Robert Lewis Shayon


J. P. Shanley