Inherit the Wind

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A muckraking, progressive reporter from the Baltimore Herald, Hornbeck a wry, skeptical man distrustful of all religions and of religious bombast generally. Hornbeck supports Cates and finds religious believers to be inherently stupid—Drummond later criticizes Hornbeck for his desire only to criticize, and Hornbeck, happy that Brady has been defeated, returns to Baltimore. (This role is inspired in part by the real-life reporter and writer H. L. Mencken.)

E. K. Hornbeck Quotes in Inherit the Wind

The Inherit the Wind quotes below are all either spoken by E. K. Hornbeck or refer to E. K. Hornbeck. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Science vs. Religion Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Ballantine Books edition of Inherit the Wind published in 2003.
Act 1, Scene 1 Quotes

The unplumbed and plumbing-less depths! Ah, Hillsboro—Heavenly Hillsboro. The buckle on the Bible Belt.

Related Characters: E. K. Hornbeck (speaker)
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

Hornbeck, speaking here in an aside to the audience, helps to set the stage for the trial, defining Hillsboro as a town concerned primarily with Christian teaching, and therefore, according to him, a backward place. Hornbeck believes that many in Hillsboro are not interested in open-mindedness or pushing beyond the received wisdom they have learned in Sunday School—that, for example, the world was created in six days, or that God has a plan for every person. Hornbeck considers these ideas ridiculous, and has no guilt about poking fun at those in Hillsboro who cling so tightly to religious teachings in the face of scientific reason.

Thus Hillsboro, for Hornbeck, is "heavenly" only because it is obsessed with religion in an age that, by Hornbeck's logic, has left religion behind. He uses the word "heavenly" not to praise Hillsboro, but rather to mock it. This sarcastic compliment, as well as his other jokes (like assuming that the town is so stuck in the past that it lacks plumbing), offer examples of Hornbeck's sharp, witty rhetorical style as he acts like a kind of "chorus," commenting on the action to the audience.

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Hello, Devil. Welcome to Hell.

Related Characters: E. K. Hornbeck (speaker), Henry Drummond
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Hornbeck welcomes Drummond to Hillsboro, again using religious language in an ironic way. He calls Drummond "the devil," but does not mean that he really is "devilish." Rather, Hornbeck is using the language of those in Hillsboro—who have heard of Drummond's support for secular causes in previous cases—as an ironic joke, one which mocks the townspeople rather than Drummond himself.

Earlier in the scene Hornbeck, again ironically, called Hillsboro "heaven." Now he is calling it hell. There are many reasons for this. It is "hell" because, if Drummond is the devil, then hell is the proper place for him to hold sway. It is also a "hell" because Hillsboro is, for Hornbeck, a closed-minded place, one without much nuance, and without citizens willing to question authority.

What will become clear as the play continues, however, is that Hornbeck's belief that a place can be either heavenly or hellish is itself a form of dogma. Drummond, in contrast, considers Hillsboro to be neither a wholly perfect nor wholly imperfect place, but rather sees it as a normal community with normal people, who contain a mixture of good and bad within them. 

Act 3, Scene 1 Quotes

He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise in heart.
We’re growing an odd crop of agnostics this year!

Related Characters: E. K. Hornbeck (speaker), Henry Drummond (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Wind
Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:

Drummond quotes from the Bible (the text which gives the play its title), and Hornbeck is surprised to hear that Drummond is willing to find any wisdom in that text. This draws the significant difference between these two men. For Drummond, the Bible can be a source of real ethical teaching, and a source of spiritual power for those who believe in it. The problem comes when the Bible is trotted out to prove one's personal arguments or vendettas, or to keep people from thinking on their own—in other words, to quash the independence of spirit.

Indeed, Hornbeck's unwillingness to consider the position of those who are accepting of religion—who are believers or agnostics but not absolutists—is in a way just as dogmatic as Brady's position. Drummond believes this to be true, and the playwrights make it clear that Hornbeck's position is as blinkered as Brady's.

Within the actual Bible quote itself, the writers again bring up the concept of wind. Here the symbol represents both wind as a kind of emptiness—the result of turning against truth or basic compassion and clinging to absolutism—but also as a kind of wind of change, bringing in new ideas to the public—as this trial hopefully will do.

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E. K. Hornbeck Character Timeline in Inherit the Wind

The timeline below shows where the character E. K. Hornbeck appears in Inherit the Wind. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Science vs. Religion Theme Icon
Oratory, Performance, and Public Speaking Theme Icon
Open-Mindedness vs. Closed-Mindedness Theme Icon
A man named Hornbeck, a reporter from the same Baltimore paper to which Cates has written, walks on-stage. Mrs.... (full context)
Science vs. Religion Theme Icon
David vs. Goliath Theme Icon
Morality, Justice, and Truth Theme Icon
Open-Mindedness vs. Closed-Mindedness Theme Icon
Elijah offers Hornbeck a Bible, but Hornbeck declines, buying a hot dog from a vendor instead, and saying... (full context)
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David vs. Goliath Theme Icon
Oratory, Performance, and Public Speaking Theme Icon
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Open-Mindedness vs. Closed-Mindedness Theme Icon
As the townspeople rush to greet Brady at the platform, Hornbeck asks the Storekeeper whether he has an opinion on evolution; the Storekeeper responds that “opinions... (full context)
Science vs. Religion Theme Icon
David vs. Goliath Theme Icon
Morality, Justice, and Truth Theme Icon
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...does not yet know, but he thinks this attorney will stand no chance against Brady. Hornbeck enters this conversation and tells the Mayor and Davenport, along with others gathered around, that... (full context)
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...at his hotel; the party breaks up. Rachel goes to the courthouse, now lit, and Hornbeck follows behind her, watching. (full context)
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Rachel asks after Meeker but cannot find him in the empty courthouse. Hornbeck enters after Rachel and begins to speak with her. He shows a draft of an... (full context)
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But Rachel tells Hornbeck that Cates, as a teacher, is a public servant, and public servants ought to do... (full context)
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But Hornbeck responds that Brady only pretends to be a champion of the people; Hornbeck implies that... (full context)
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...Melinda screams as she sees a shadow walking toward the town from the station—a man Hornbeck identifies as Drummond, but whom Melinda calls the Devil. Hornbeck jokingly welcomes Drummond, “the Devil,”... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
Science vs. Religion Theme Icon
Oratory, Performance, and Public Speaking Theme Icon
Open-Mindedness vs. Closed-Mindedness Theme Icon
...sits with Davenport and Drummond sits with Cates. Rachel sits nervously in the courtroom, and Hornbeck is perched on a ledge, observing all. Davenport asks a potential juror, a townsman named... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
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Brady runs into Hornbeck, the Baltimore reporter, and tells him he has read his progressive, anti-religious, “biased” commentary, and... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
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The scene opens as Hornbeck buzzes around Brady and Drummond, asking them how they feel about the trial—but both men... (full context)
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...foreman reports that the jury has found Cates, unanimously, guilty of the charges against him. Hornbeck shouts out that the court, and the town, have returned to the Middle Ages, and... (full context)
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...Drummond appears to feel sorry for this apoplectic Brady, as he is taken outside, but Hornbeck claims, in an aside to the audience, that Brady is nothing more than an overgrown... (full context)
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...won—that he’s “smashed a bad law.” Meeker announces that Cates can leave jail right now—that Hornbeck has put up the 500 dollars bail to allow him his freedom, compliments of the... (full context)
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...in to announce that Brady has died. Drummond is greatly saddened by his death, but Hornbeck seems to rejoice, thinking that the world is rid of a loud, obnoxious man. But... (full context)
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...to the wise in heart.” Drummond says that “there was greatness” in Brady, and when Hornbeck makes fun of Drummond, an agnostic, for quoting from the Bible, Drummond counters that Hornbeck... (full context)
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Hornbeck believes that Drummond is being too kind to Brady, but Drummond counters that Brady was... (full context)