Inherit the Wind

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Reverend Jeremiah Brown Character Analysis

Hillsboro’s “religious leader,” Reverend Brown, Rachel’s father, is a fire-and-brimstone Christian who believes that sinners, like Cates, should be damned to hellfire and torment. Rachel, Brady, and others in the town do not necessarily follow the fervor of Brown’s beliefs, however. Brady quotes from Proverbs that those who disturb their own house will find they have no house, no family to turn to—these people will merely “inherit the wind.” Rachel leaves Brown’s house at the end of the play, to take the train away from Hillsboro with Cates.

Reverend Jeremiah Brown Quotes in Inherit the Wind

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

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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.

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Reverend Jeremiah Brown Character Timeline in Inherit the Wind

The timeline below shows where the character Reverend Jeremiah Brown 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
David vs. Goliath Theme Icon
Oratory, Performance, and Public Speaking Theme Icon
Morality, Justice, and Truth Theme Icon
Open-Mindedness vs. Closed-Mindedness Theme Icon
Melinda exits and Rachel Brown enters. Rachel is 22 and a teacher at the local school. She notices Howard, still... (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
...to see Rachel, but believes she has put herself in a difficult position with her father by coming to visit him. Rachel brings Cates some extra clothes and other items from... (full context)
Science vs. Religion Theme Icon
Morality, Justice, and Truth Theme Icon
Open-Mindedness vs. Closed-Mindedness Theme Icon
...Krebs replies 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... (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
...is selling lemonade, and Mrs. Blair, Howard’s mother, tells Howard to “spit down” his hair. Reverend Brown wants the town to appear cheerful, neat, and “Christian” for Brady’s big arrival party.... (full context)
Science vs. Religion Theme Icon
David vs. Goliath Theme Icon
Oratory, Performance, and Public Speaking Theme Icon
Morality, Justice, and Truth Theme Icon
Open-Mindedness vs. Closed-Mindedness Theme Icon
...OUR SCHOOLS). As Brady exits the train many of the townspeople, having been coordinated by Reverend Brown, begin singing “Gimme that Old Time Religion.” (full context)
Science vs. Religion Theme Icon
David vs. Goliath Theme Icon
Oratory, Performance, and Public Speaking Theme Icon
Morality, Justice, and Truth Theme Icon
Open-Mindedness vs. Closed-Mindedness Theme Icon
...of Brady’s celebrity. Brady asks to meet the town’s “spiritual leader” and is introduced to Reverend Brown. The Mayor gives a brief, prepared speech, thanking Brady for coming, and names Brady... (full context)
Science vs. Religion Theme Icon
David vs. Goliath Theme Icon
Oratory, Performance, and Public Speaking Theme Icon
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Open-Mindedness vs. Closed-Mindedness Theme Icon
Reverend Brown refers to Drummond as an “agnostic” and a “vicious, godless” man, saying that he... (full context)
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Morality, Justice, and Truth Theme Icon
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As the party ends, Brady thanks the Reverend Brown for the warm conversation he has had with Rachel—Brady implies that Rachel has given... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
Science vs. Religion Theme Icon
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Oratory, Performance, and Public Speaking Theme Icon
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Open-Mindedness vs. Closed-Mindedness Theme Icon
...orders the court to reconvene at ten the next morning. The Judge also announces that Reverend Brown will be holding a prayer meeting in front of the court that night. After... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
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Oratory, Performance, and Public Speaking Theme Icon
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Open-Mindedness vs. Closed-Mindedness Theme Icon
Reverend Brown and the Bradys sit on a small stage above the courthouse square, overlooking a... (full context)
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David vs. Goliath Theme Icon
Oratory, Performance, and Public Speaking Theme Icon
Morality, Justice, and Truth Theme Icon
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Brown then turns into a darker part of his speech—he asks the crowd whether they believe... (full context)
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At this point, Brady, who has been made uncomfortable by Brown’s sermon’s darker tinge, takes over the speech, saying that, although religious zeal is good, too... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
Science vs. Religion Theme Icon
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Oratory, Performance, and Public Speaking Theme Icon
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Open-Mindedness vs. Closed-Mindedness Theme Icon
...aptitude for scientific inquiry. Cates was also angered that, because Tommy was not baptized, Rachel’s father refused to comfort Tommy’s family after his death, saying he did not die in a... (full context)
Science vs. Religion Theme Icon
David vs. Goliath Theme Icon
Oratory, Performance, and Public Speaking Theme Icon
Morality, Justice, and Truth Theme Icon
Open-Mindedness vs. Closed-Mindedness Theme Icon
...religion is supposed to provide comfort—he is still angry for the discomfort and sadness that Brown’s judgment of Tommy, after Tommy’s death, caused Tommy’s family and others in Hillsboro. Brady asks... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
Science vs. Religion Theme Icon
David vs. Goliath Theme Icon
Morality, Justice, and Truth Theme Icon
Open-Mindedness vs. Closed-Mindedness Theme Icon
Rachel also arrives and speaks to Cates, saying that she is leaving her father’s house, and wishes to go with Cates wherever he’s headed. Rachel tells Cates and Drummond... (full context)