Inherit the Wind

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Henry Drummond Character Analysis

A famous progressive, agnostic lawyer, one known for being able to win cases for his defendants, some of whom appear very much to be guilty, Henry Drummond works Cates’ case pro bono, and comes from Chicago to pit himself against Brady. Drummond respects Brady and does not ultimately believe that Christianity should be expunged from American society—rather, Drummond believes that religion and science each should be allowed to operate within their separate spheres. When Brady dies, Drummond mourns his passing and claims Brady was a great man—Drummond later leaves town with Cates and Rachel, on the same train, convinced that the Hillsboro trial has “moved forward” the case for the separation of religion and science. (This role is inspired by real-life attorney Clarence Darrow.)

Henry Drummond Quotes in Inherit the Wind

The Inherit the Wind quotes below are all either spoken by Henry Drummond or refer to Henry Drummond. 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

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. 

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Act 1, Scene 2 Quotes

Does Mr. Drummond refuse this man [Dunlap] a place on the jury simply because he believes in the Bible?
If you find an Evolutionist in this town, you can refuse him.

Related Characters: Matthew Harrison Brady (speaker), Henry Drummond (speaker)
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:

Drummond and Brady debate the composition of the jury before the start of the trial. Drummond argues that any Christians who openly profess their beliefs might be too prejudiced to serve on the jury—that is, they might be inclined to believe that Cates broke the law without considering the facts of the case. Brady counters that it would be difficult to find people who are not believers in the Bible in the town of Hillsboro—and he does so in his usual manner of speaking, appealing to the idea of the "good Christian American," and assuming that believing in the Bible isn't any kind of prejudice or anomaly, but is something everyone should do. To many of the people involved in the case (like Brady), morality and justice are inseparable from Christian belief, so there really isn't such a thing as secular justice, and excluding a jury member because he is a Christian seems absurd.

To this, Drummond responds that Brady could willingly exclude from the jury any "Evolutionists" in the town. Of course, Drummond knows he is far less likely to find such a person in Hillsboro. (This fact also points to the weight of local opinion against Cates, and how unlikely it is that he'll be found innocent.) But his point still stands—there is no one in Hillsboro who is "outside" this debate, as it concerns religion, science, and the way these two systems interact in the schools. 

Well, I’m pretty busy down at the feed store. My wife tends to the religion for both of us.
In other words, you take care of this life, and your wife takes care of the next one?

Related Characters: Henry Drummond (speaker), George Sillers (speaker)
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

Drummond examines George Sillers in the witness box toward the beginning of the trial, to see if he can be a part of the jury. Drummond is making the point that there are some people in Hillsboro for whom religion is more of a background concern, and less of a primary one. Brady's religious posturing has been ostentatious and over-the-top, and Rachel's father teaches plainly that religion is of the utmost importance in people's lives, but here Drummond implies here that these are not necessarily the views of everyone in town.

The logic of Drummond's point is powerful. If there are those in town for whom religion is not the defining feature of life and law, then there are people who might be more open to the teaching of evolution in the schools, as Cates has done. 

I’ve seen what you can do to a jury. Twist and tangle them. Nobody’s forgotten the Endicott Publishing case—where you made the jury believe the obscenity was in their own minds, not on the printed page.

Related Characters: Matthew Harrison Brady (speaker), Henry Drummond
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:

Brady argues that Drummond is well known for "influencing" juries, either by selecting certain "prejudicial" groups to fill them, or by keeping others, who might go against Drummond's beliefs, away from them. For Brady, there is no difference between tolerating some conversation between religion and science (on the one hand) and wholly supporting science (on the other). Brady believes, or at least advocates in his speeches, that religion is bound up in the character of the country, and in its small towns—that America is great because it is a Christian country.

But Drummond has a different view of things. He believes that people ought to be able to make up their own minds—and although he does wish to keep ardent Christians off the jury, he does so, by his own logic, to make room for people who are least willing to consider the other side, Cates's side, of the case. In general, Drummond is the advocate for a more secular, unbiased kind of justice, while Brady appeals to a justice of emotion of popular opinion.

Mr. Drummond. You’ve got to call the whole thing off. It’s not too late. Bert knows he did wrong. He didn’t mean to. And he’s sorry. Now why can’t he just stand up and say to everybody: “I did wrong. I broke a law. I admit it. I won’t do it again.”

Related Characters: Rachel Brown (speaker), Bertram Cates, Henry Drummond
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Rachel begs Drummond to avoid the trial altogether, to keep Bert Cates out of the spotlight, and to let him confess to a lesser offense. There are several problems, however, with Rachel's logic in this instance. First, Cates does not believe that he did do anything wrong—Rachel still believes it was immoral to go against the school board's wishes, but again, Cates feels that to disobey an unjust law is just. Second, Cates himself is not willing to let the case go away—instead, he believes it is his right and duty to fight, tooth and nail, in his own defense. Cates does this not simply to clear his own name—although surely that is part of the consideration—but also to prove a point about open-mindedness in education. And to do this, he must air his grievances openly, in the courtroom. 

Can they make me testify?
I’m afraid so. It would be nice if nobody ever had to make anybody do anything. But—Don’t let Brady scare you. He only seems to be bigger than the law.

Related Characters: Rachel Brown (speaker), Henry Drummond (speaker), Matthew Harrison Brady
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:

Drummond reassures Rachel before she might be called to the witness stand. Drummond knows that Brady is a very effective advocate in the courtroom, and that he can be intimidating to a witness. He is a nationally famous figure, his speeches tend to arouse the sympathies of large crowds, and his Christian apologist stance plays well among small towns in the middle of the country, where Christian beliefs are still strong and are interwoven with a powerful patriotism.

Even here, however, Drummond does not demonize Brady the way that Hornbeck does. Drummond believes that Brady advocates for his views occasionally too avidly, but Drummond does not believe these views to be ignorant and destructive. This fact will be important later in the play, when Drummond makes clear to the audience that Brady, though flawed, was not a bad man. 

Act 2, Scene 1 Quotes

All motion is relative. Perhaps it is you who have moved away—by standing still.

Related Characters: Henry Drummond (speaker), Matthew Harrison Brady
Page Number: 67
Explanation and Analysis:

Drummond here introduces a scientific concept to indicate that Brady is perhaps more out of step with the mainstream of the American public than Brady is willing to admit. Drummond implies that the world has moved forward—that scientific ideas are more broadly accepted by the American public and seen not to be in conflict with the realm of the religious. For Brady, however, religious teachings remain absolute—thus Drummond notes that Brady has "stayed still," and has not moved forward with the rest of society. And, of course, from the perspective of those walking ahead, Brady does indeed appear to be close-minded and clinging to a kind of nostalgic past. 

Act 2, Scene 2 Quotes

Let’s put it this way, Howard. All this fuss and feathers about Evolution, do you think it hurt you any?
Sir?
Did it do you any harm? You still feel reasonably fit? Did it hurt your baseball game any? Affect your pitching arm?
No, sir. I’m a leftie.

Related Characters: Henry Drummond (speaker), Howard (speaker)
Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:

Drummond indicates, via his subtle interrogation of Howard, that the notion of a grand debate between religion and science is in many ways a construct, a falsity that is played out in the public eye, but that does not affect the day-to-day lives of the town in a significant way. For religious belief, Drummond implies, is an important method of orienting oneself toward the moral universe. With that said, religious belief has no effect on something practical like a baseball game—or, by this logic, on scientific realms, such as the objective study of the origin of human beings.

Drummond makes plain that there can be religion in American society in the twentieth century, but there cannot be religious absolutism. Modern society does not function if all is subordinated to religious belief. But religion can be a significant part of the moral systems of American communities, and can coexist with more "worldly" matters like baseball or scientific study.

One of the peculiar imbecilities of our time is the grid of morality we have placed on human behavior: so that every act of man must be measured against an arbitrary latitude of right and longitude of wrong . . . .

Related Characters: Henry Drummond (speaker)
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:

Drummond here eloquently argues before the court that there are some moral laws imposed on human behavior "from without." Drummond clearly believes that religion is capable of "overstepping" its bounds. One instance of this is, of course, in the classroom evolution debate, where the Biblical notion of the conception of human life has no scientific or observable basis. But Drummond is speaking, more broadly, about the way in which people like Brady use religious teachings to divide the world into good and bad, right and wrong. It is this closed-minded moral "grid" that angers Drummond.

One way out of the "grid" mentality is to accept that people are, instead, somewhere in between good and bad—that there are gray areas between. Likewise, one shouldn't necessarily accept the absolute truth of any belief system, but should always remain open-minded and questioning. 

In this community, Colonel Drummond . . . the language of the law is clear; we do not need experts to question the validity of a law that is already on the books.
In other words, the court rules out any expert testimony on Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species or Descent of Man?
The court so rules.

Related Characters: Henry Drummond (speaker), The Judge (speaker)
Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:

The Judge does not permit any scientist to testify as to the accuracy of the theory of evolution by natural selection. This unwillingness to even consider evidence that might bolster Cates's position is an indicator of just how far the deck is stacked against Cates. Cates's entire argument, indeed, is predicated on the idea that one ought to teach evolution in school because evolution, as Darwin developed the theory, is good science. Christian teachings are not science at all—they are a system that deals not in the objective but in the subjective, and therefore they ought to be part of a theological or philosophical course instead.

But the judge here argues that "good" and "bad" science are irrelevant, and the only thing that matters is if science goes against the rules of the school board. Thus the experts cannot testify, and an objective kind of justice is again compromised in the trial.

Now tell me. Do you feel that every word that’s written in this book should be taken literally?
Everything in the Bible should be accepted, exactly as it is given there.

Related Characters: Matthew Harrison Brady (speaker), Henry Drummond (speaker)
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

Drummond, recognizing that he has little chance of actually winning the case, still wants to prove a point and get to the bottom of Brady's ideas in the courtroom. Brady argues that the Bible is literal truth—that is does not set up metaphorical expectations on the part of the reader, but that it instead ought to be understood literally and at face value. Drummond will go on to show that this simply cannot be true, however—there are items in the Bible too fantastical or contradictory to be believed, and the "truth" of the Bible cannot be so inflexible as to be exactly what is found, literally, in the pages of the book.

But Drummond is making a larger point, too—that any too-narrow or too-literal framework for interpretation, in any moral system, is bound to be a failure. Drummond argues that it is precisely in our human nature to question, to prod, to ask whether "the truth" is really always true. 

Is that the way of things? God tells Brady what is good? To be against Brady is to be against God!

Related Characters: Henry Drummond (speaker), Matthew Harrison Brady
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Drummond finds a weak spot in Brady's argument. Because if the Bible is the word of God, and if Brady is the one doing his own reading of the Bible, then really the word of God is Brady's word. Drummond uses this as an opportunity to show just how important public speaking, and reputation, are to Brady. He paints Brady as a kind of megalomaniac, a man claiming to speak directly for God—and this sort of pride is, at best, un-Christian.

Drummond does not appear to have a personal grudge against Brady, but he does object a great deal to Brady's opinions. Drummond's belief system is predicated on the idea that no one person can know everything, and that the world is far more complex than we, as humans, might like it to be. Certainties are hard to come by. But for Brady, certainty is an essential part of his experience—and he likes explaining his certainties to others. 

Act 3, Scene 1 Quotes

Bert, whenever you see something bright, shining, perfect-seeming—all gold, with purple spots—look behind the paint! And if it’s a lie—show it up for what it really is!

Related Characters: Henry Drummond (speaker), Bertram Cates
Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:

Drummond makes a distinction here between appearance and reality, as Cates waits to hear the verdict against him. For Drummond, it is important always to investigate the root causes of any particular event. Sometimes a thing might seem perfect, moral, and upright, but might have behind it baser human motivations. Drummond believes that Brady is not a bad person, but that Brady has become caught up in his own crusade, in his own popular image. And, according to Drummond, this has caused Brady to use religious teaching to further his own public fame.

Thus Drummond encourages Cates, and members of the audience watching the play, to continually question authority and probe beneath the "shiny" surface of things—to not accept teachings that just appear plausible, but rather to be objective and to think for oneself.

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.

I’ll tell you Brady had the same right as Cates: the right to be wrong!

Related Characters: Henry Drummond (speaker), Bertram Cates
Page Number: 127
Explanation and Analysis:

Drummond summarizes his position effectively in this final statement, in which he again attacks the seemingly unassailable public persona of Brady. The "right to be wrong" is, for Drummond, paramount, because the right to be wrong is bound up in the right to think for oneself. No one would do this kind of thinking if he or she were afraid of being taken to trial for an incorrect belief.

Drummond believes, instead, that more conversation is needed between parties—and that some kind of compromise ought to be reached, wherein intolerance of all forms is quashed, and free thinking is always allowed. Thus science could be taught in scientific classrooms in school without disrupting religious systems with open-minded practitioners. 

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Henry Drummond Character Timeline in Inherit the Wind

The timeline below shows where the character Henry Drummond appears in Inherit the Wind. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
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...Baltimore Herald, and that the paper has sent him to report on the trial, and Henry Drummond, from Chicago, to be Cates’ attorney. The town gasps at this latter piece of... (full context)
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Reverend Brown refers to Drummond as an “agnostic” and a “vicious, godless” man, saying that he once observed Drummond in... (full context)
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But Brady, returning to the party after conversing with Rachel, is told of Drummond’s arrival, and after a moment’s pause, he remarks that the town ought to welcome Drummond,... (full context)
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...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,” to Hell (the... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
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...the jury-summoning phase. The Judge is seated before the court: Brady sits with Davenport and Drummond sits with Cates. Rachel sits nervously in the courtroom, and Hornbeck is perched on a... (full context)
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Drummond then questions Bannister, asking if Bannister has read Darwin or the Bible. Bannister answers that... (full context)
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...take off their jackets, since it is so hot; the Judge agrees. Brady jokes with Drummond about Drummond’s “city” fashion, and Drummond jokes back with Brady, who is affronted that someone... (full context)
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...by Davenport as a juror (Dunlap says he believes in God and trusts in Brady); Drummond, however, does not accept Dunlap, implying that all jurors seem to be practicing and fervent... (full context)
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When Brady is referred to by the Judge and others as Colonel, Drummond again objects, stating that it is prejudicial that Brady was given an honorary title as... (full context)
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...juror. Davenport accepts Sillers quickly as a “God-fearing” member of the town population. But as Drummond questions Sillers, Sillers reveals that, though he considers himself Christian, his wife does more of... (full context)
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Drummond, satisfied by this, accepts Sillers to the jury, but Davenport and Brady both worry that... (full context)
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The Judge tells both Drummond and Brady to stop—he states that the jury has been set, and orders the court... (full context)
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As people file out of the courtroom, Rachel comes up to Drummond and Cates, and tells Drummond that he and Cates should “call the whole thing off”... (full context)
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Drummond asks Cates if he’d really like to quit—Cates admits he had no idea his teaching... (full context)
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But Drummond counters that he cares about Cates and Cates’ opinions, and that he has taken the... (full context)
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...wants Cates to throw in the towel, Cates, after thinking for a moment, agrees with Drummond that he cannot give up. Rachel is angry, but Drummond appears proud of Cates for... (full context)
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Drummond informs Rachel that the court can force her to testify, but he tells Rachel not... (full context)
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...day of the trial. In response to one British reporter’s question, about Brady’s opinion of Drummond, Brady says that he supports Drummond, personally, as a lawyer and man, but that Brady... (full context)
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At this point, the prayer meeting ends, and Brady moves to Drummond, who is in the audience, asking him, privately, why Drummond has “moved away” from Brady,... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
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...all his faith torn from him. The crowd reacts warmly to Brady’s impromptu remarks as Drummond takes his turn to cross-examine Howard. (full context)
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Drummond asks Howard whether it’s wrong that Darwin thought up his theory of evolution—the Judge temporarily... (full context)
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Drummond then asks Howard, whose father is a farmer, if his father’s tractor was mentioned in... (full context)
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...the things Cates said to her, in private, regarding the nature of God and religion. Drummond objects that these discussions are hearsay and therefore not admissible as evidence, but the Judge... (full context)
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Although Drummond wishes to cross-examine Rachel, Rachel is so upset that Cates asks Drummond simply to let... (full context)
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Drummond proceeds to call a professor of zoology from the University of Chicago to the stand,... (full context)
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The Judge seems to agree with Brady, saying that the experts’ testimony—and Drummond has brought along fifteen experts to testify to the various biological, archeological, and geological facets... (full context)
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Drummond has “hit a roadblock,” and though he believes that Cates’ right to teach evolution would... (full context)
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Drummond is flummoxed, but he asks if he could call to the stand an expert witness... (full context)
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Drummond gets Brady to admit that, although he is an expert on the Bible, with many... (full context)
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Drummond asks Brady if Brady believes in the Bible as the literal truth, always—Brady answers that... (full context)
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Drummond asks Brady, then, about Joshua, who in the Bible is claimed to have made the... (full context)
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Drummond then asks Brady whether the sex that ancient Bible fathers engaged in with their wives,... (full context)
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But Drummond counters that Brady is not willing to concede to men the things that makes them... (full context)
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Drummond shows Brady a rock, with a fossilized marine creature inside, saying that the rock and... (full context)
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Drummond continues in this line—he asks whether, in the first days of creation, these days lasted... (full context)
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Brady has no quick answer for Drummond, but Davenport yells, objecting to the Judge, that Drummond is trying to ruin this Christian... (full context)
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Brady says Drummond is attacking the Bible, but Drummond answers that the Bible is a good book—and not... (full context)
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Brady becomes extremely upset, as Drummond states that only Brady is allowed to determine what is right and wrong, not just... (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 ignore the reporter. Cates then... (full context)
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Drummond then tells a story from his childhood: his father, a working man, and his mother... (full context)
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...shouts out that the court, and the town, have returned to the Middle Ages, and Drummond requests that Cates may be given the right to speak, briefly. (full context)
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...will be, simply, a $100 fine. Brady believes this punishment is far too light, but Drummond argues that Cates will never pay any fine, because he and Cates will fight the... (full context)
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Brady says that he has a few remarks, but Drummond and the Judge say that these remarks, for the town and broadcast over radio, can... (full context)
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...stored in memory, from the three times he has run for, and lost, the Presidency. Drummond appears to feel sorry for this apoplectic Brady, as he is taken outside, but Hornbeck... (full context)
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Cates asks Drummond, after the Brady crisis has calmed in the courtroom, what will happen to him. Cates... (full context)
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...father’s house, and wishes to go with Cates wherever he’s headed. Rachel tells Cates and Drummond that she’s still not sure whether she believes in what Darwin wrote, but Rachel now... (full context)
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The Judge comes back in to announce that Brady has died. Drummond is greatly saddened by his death, but Hornbeck seems to rejoice, thinking that the world... (full context)
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Drummond then finds Brady’s Bible and the verse from Proverbs: “He that troubleth his own house... (full context)
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Hornbeck believes that Drummond is being too kind to Brady, but Drummond counters that Brady was simply a man... (full context)
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Drummond then says to Cates and to Rachel that he ought to be going, and when... (full context)