Inherit the Wind

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A dear friend and love interest of Cates’, Rachel Brown, daughter of Reverend Brown, Hillsboro’s “religious leader,” believes that Cates should not have broken the state’s no-evolution law, no matter how silly it seems. She asks Cates repeatedly to admit his guilt and avoid trial. Rachel eventually comes to realize, after being forced to testify against Cates, that people must be given the chance to think for themselves, and to determine what they believe in; Rachel then leaves town, at the play’s end, with Cates.

Rachel Brown Quotes in Inherit the Wind

The Inherit the Wind quotes below are all either spoken by Rachel Brown or refer to Rachel Brown. 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

Bert, it’s still not too late. Why can’t you admit you’re wrong? If the biggest man in the country . . . –if Matthew Harrison Brady comes here to tell the whole world how wrong you are . . . .
You still think I did wrong?

Related Characters: Bertram Cates (speaker), Rachel Brown (speaker)
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

Bert Cates and Rachel Brown are discussing Cates' upcoming trial, for a crime Cates has knowingly committed: the teaching of evolution in school. Rachel is inclined to believe both that Cates is a moral man, and that one ought to be obedient to the teachings of religion. Cates does not so much disagree with Rachel as he does argue, respectfully, that science, and not religion, ought to be taught in the classroom. Thus Cates is somewhat surprised to learn that Rachel believes he has "done wrong" in this instance. Cates instead believes that he has broken an "unjust law"—he has not sinned so much as fallen afoul of the town's restrictive, close-minded guidelines for scientific teaching.

This problem of moral authority as it runs up against the "law of the land" will recur throughout the play. Rachel's position will adjust over time, and will eventually approach Cates' worldview, this quote shows that even at the start of the play both Cates and Rachel are doing their best to live their own versions of moral lives. 

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I understand your loyalty, my child. This man, the man in your jailhouse, is a fellow schoolteacher. Likeable, no doubt. And you are loath to speak out against him before all these people. Think of me as a friend, Rachel. And tell me what troubles you.

Related Characters: Matthew Harrison Brady (speaker), Rachel Brown
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:

Matthew Harrison Brady, the famous public speaker and former presidential candidate, has pulled Rachel aside during his grand entrance into the town, for he has heard that Rachel is close with Cates, the man whom Brady is to prove guilty of breaking the law. Brady here performs a kind of performance of empathy, pretending that he respects Rachel for her unwillingness to speak ill of Cates. But Brady, as will be shown later in the play, is perhaps not so understanding as he initially seems. Brady does in fact believes that Cates is morally wrong to teach evolution, and he wants Rachel, whose father is the town's influential minister, to be on his, Brady's, side in the matter. He will use his prodigious charm to this effect.

Rachel, for her part, tries to be polite to all parties, but she does not waver in her support for her friend—despite the fact that he is being prosecuted by a man as famous and powerful as Brady. Rachel is loyal to Cates even when she does not agree with everything Cates does—in other words, she can separate the deed from the person. Brady, though he promotes himself as a Christian, is less able to extend this compassion and empathy to others. 

You make it sound as if Bert is a hero. I’d like to think that, but I can’t. A schoolteacher is a public servant: I th9ink he should do what the law and the school-board want him to.

Related Characters: Rachel Brown (speaker), Bertram Cates
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

Rachel makes the case here for why Bert Cates might perhaps deserve punishment even though he is not a bad person. Rachel does not think that Cates is ungodly or wicked, but she does argue, in a rather convincing way, that Cates ought to uphold the teachings of the place where he is employed—that there might be considerations beyond Cates's own ideas as to how things should work. This shows Rachel displaying her own kind of open-mindedness, even though at this point in the play she is still one of the "closed-minded" townspeople who oppose the teaching of science over religion.

Cates would counter, however, that an unjust or incorrect law ought not to be observed. Instead, a man or woman has a moral obligation to oppose a law he or she knows to be wrong or misguided—no matter how powerful the institutions or people behind such a law might be. Thus Cates and Rachel disagree fundamentally, at this point in the play, as to what Cates ought to have done about individually promoting evolution and ignoring the school board's dogma.

Act 1, Scene 2 Quotes

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. 

If you’ll stick by me, Rache—well, we can fight it out.

Related Characters: Bertram Cates (speaker), Rachel Brown
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Cates asks Rachel directly if she will support him. He does not wish to test Rachel's loyalty, but he knows that Rachel is a true friend, and Cates still believes that his side is the morally just one. He recognizes, too, that Rachel's influence in the town is significant, because Rachel's father is an important preacher and moral authority. If Rachel can be seen as sympathetic on Cates's behalf, then Cates, by this logic, cannot appear so bad to the rest of the town.

Rachel, for her part, walks a thin line. She does not wish for Cates to be punished too harshly, but she does want to uphold the laws of Hillsboro as she sees them. Both characters also recognize that they are essentially lone individuals against the weight of public opinion in the town—so even if they can prove a point, it will still be almost impossible to overcome the odds.

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

Do we call down hellfire on the man who has sinned against the Word? . . . Strike down this sinner, as Thou didst Thine enemies of old, in the days of the Pharaohs!
No! No, Father. Don’t pray to destroy Bert!

Related Characters: Rachel Brown (speaker), Reverend Jeremiah Brown (speaker), Bertram Cates
Page Number: 66
Explanation and Analysis:

Jeremiah Brown preaches a fire-and-brimstone sermon against Bert Cates and anyone in the town who dare to elevate science and go against the teachings of the Bible. This sermon draws into high relief the difference between Rachel's views and those of her father. Jeremiah Brown is rigid and close-minded in his beliefs, and believes that sinners must be dealt with harshly and punished with destruction and damnation. But Rachel, for her part, believes more in the Christian concepts of forgiveness and love. She refuses to accept the idea that Cates, a friend of hers for many years, is fundamentally immoral or deserving of such punishment. She instead wants to think that Cates has simply made a mistake—one for which he can atone. 

Act 2, Scene 2 Quotes

Tommy Stebbins used to come over to the boarding house and look through Bert’s microscope. Bert said the boy had a quick mind, and he might even be a scientist when he grew up. At the funeral, Pa preached that Tommy didn’t die in a state of grace, because his folks had never had him baptized . . . .
Tell ‘em what your father really said! That Tommy’s soul was damned, writhing in hellfire!

Related Characters: Bertram Cates (speaker), Rachel Brown (speaker), Reverend Jeremiah Brown, Tommy Stebbins
Page Number: 76
Explanation and Analysis:

Rachel's testimony here indicates several facets of Bert Cates's character, and of his relationship to others in the town. Cates believed it was important to encourage scientific speculation on the part of his students. But the case of Tommy Stebbins is an important one, as both Cates and Rachel recognize, because Stebbins's untimely death is viewed, among the religious community of Hillsboro, as a tragic case of a death without the promise of religious salvation, rather than a case of a promising young student and scientific investigator passing away. Furthermore, Reverend Brown's harsh reaction to Tommy's death paints the religious absolutism that Cates wants to avoid in a damning light—as it seems shockingly cruel to preach at a child's funeral and declare that the child is now being tortured in Hell.

Cates has hoped to stoke a fire of scientific inquiry in his students, but he also realizes that this is difficult in a town where a great many other factors—including the state of one's soul before death—are still considered deeply important.

“God created Man in His own image—and Man, being a gentleman, returned the compliment.”

Related Characters: Rachel Brown (speaker), Bertram Cates
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Rachel is reporting something that Cates once said to her. Before this Rachel was worried, of course, and expressed to Drummond her fear of having to incriminate her friend. But Rachel also believes in telling the truth, and though Cates's comments to her were probably in jest—for it is never made certain just what Cates really thinks of Christian religion as a moral system—they appear to the courtroom to be an indicator of Cates's lack of concern for Christian teaching.

Cates's comments indicate that he is, at minimum, willing to critique the ideas set forward in the Bible and in the church in Hillsboro. This alone should not be enough to convict him. But Brady has created an atmosphere in the town where any kind of deviation from the Christian norm ought to be considered suspect. 

Act 3, Scene 1 Quotes

You see, I haven’t really thought very much. I was always afraid of what I might think—so it seemed safer not to think at all. But now I know. A thought is like a child inside our body. It has to be born. If it dies inside you, part of you dies, too!

Related Characters: Rachel Brown (speaker)
Page Number: 124
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Rachel acknowledges to herself, Cates, and the audience that she has grown in her thinking on the subject of religion. Before, she believed that religious teachings should be followed because they represented authority—either the authority of her own father, or of the church and school board. But Rachel has now finally come around to Cates's position, and believes that one must think for oneself at all times.

It's important to note that this does not mean that religion ought to be discarded, that science should explain everything in the world, and that believers should be ridiculed, as Hornbeck argues. Instead, Rachel finds that she, Cates, and Drummond can all agree that free thought and the pursuit of truth is the foundation of human experience. If people are taught to think for themselves, then a greater conversation about right and wrong, true and false—with shades between—can be had in a community, for the benefit of all. 

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Rachel Brown Character Timeline in Inherit the Wind

The timeline below shows where the character Rachel Brown 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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Melinda exits and Rachel Brown enters. Rachel is 22 and a teacher at the local school. She notices Howard,... (full context)
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Cates is happy to see Rachel, but believes she has put herself in a difficult position with her father by coming... (full context)
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Rachel tells Cates that Matthew Harrison Brady, the “second most-powerful man in America, after the President,”... (full context)
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Rachel reminds Cates that there is a law against teaching evolution, and Cates says he knew... (full context)
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...that the Lord “gives the heat, and gives us glands to sweat with.” Reverend Brown, Rachel’s father, enters, says hello to Krebs and the Storekeeper, and asks why the banner isn’t... (full context)
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Brady, after eating, asks the crowd whether Cates is a “criminal by nature.” Rachel, who emerges from the sea of townspeople, answers that he is a good man, and... (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... (full context)
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...party ends, Brady thanks the Reverend Brown for the warm conversation he has had with Rachel—Brady implies that Rachel has given him key insight into Cates’ character, but Rachel looks nervous... (full context)
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Rachel asks after Meeker but cannot find him in the empty courthouse. Hornbeck enters after Rachel... (full context)
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But Rachel tells Hornbeck that Cates, as a teacher, is a public servant, and public servants ought... (full context)
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...more for his own self-aggrandizement than for the sake of the “common man.” Hornbeck tells Rachel that the times have changed, and that the modern world no longer has room for... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
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...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 ledge, observing all. Davenport... (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... (full context)
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...that, because Cates has “slayed” people’s ideas of God and religion, they’ve become especially angry—and Rachel responds to Drummond’s apparent mirth, at Cates’ expense, to wonder aloud if Drummond hasn’t taken... (full context)
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Although Rachel wants Cates to throw in the towel, Cates, after thinking for a moment, agrees with... (full context)
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Cates, as he’s being led away by Meeker, implies that the questions he asked in Rachel’s presence—questions about the nature of God and religion—are questions that, if Rachel repeats them, will... (full context)
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Drummond informs Rachel that the court can force her to testify, but he tells Rachel not to be... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
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...whether they believe that sinners, in their midst, will be punished and destroyed by God. Rachel yells to her father not to damn Cates, as he is implying, to Hell, but... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
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Howard is excused by the Judge, and Rachel is brought to testify. Brady begins questioning her, asking if she and Cates attend the... (full context)
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Brady then questions Rachel about some of the things Cates said to her, in private, regarding the nature of... (full context)
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Rachel admits that Cates said to her, once, that “God created man in his image—and man,... (full context)
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Although Drummond wishes to cross-examine Rachel, Rachel is so upset that Cates asks Drummond simply to let her leave the box,... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
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Rachel also arrives and speaks to Cates, saying that she is leaving her father’s house, and... (full context)
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Drummond then says to Cates and to Rachel that he ought to be going, and when Cates says he can help Drummond pay... (full context)