The most trenchant ironies in this critique of English youth-detention centers (and, implicitly, the society that allows them) arise from small details that show those in power reinforcing their self-image of tolerance and moral correctness while enabling and enforcing a code of brutal, arbitrary punishment having nothing to do with rehabilitation.
1. An inspector comes round to perfunctorily inspect the food served to the Trainees, yet any concern for their physical well-being evaporates once the beatings resume.
2. The Governer accommodates Archer's feigned vegetarianism and atheism, yet fails to stock the library with the more advanced literature he requests (two Dostoevsky novels), and furthermore bristles when Archer mentions an interest in Islam.
3. The Governor states that he won't stand…