Inherit the Wind

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Open-Mindedness vs. Closed-Mindedness Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
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
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Inherit the Wind, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Open-Mindedness vs. Closed-Mindedness Theme Icon

Finally, Inherit the Wind contains a detailed discussion of what it means to open- or closed-minded in a complex, modern society. Drummond is the primary vehicle for this discussion, as he conceives of the trial’s fundamental question as, essentially, a philosophical one: Drummond believes he is fighting for the right of private citizens to think whatever they want, and to share their thought-processes with others. Cates, for his part, questioned the balance of evolution and creationism, and urged his students not to reject religion but, rather, to examine both thought-systems critically. It is this process of questioning that Drummond champions.

In this way, Reverend Brown becomes a “villain” in the play because he is closed-minded: he will not allow that scientists can believe in God, and damns all who don’t believe in creationism to hell. Hornbeck at first seems a more sympathetic figure, with his support for Cates and mockery of the closed-mindedness of the town. But by the end of the play Drummond has rejected Hornbeck’s viewpoint as also being closed-minded—Hornbeck refuses to acknowledge that religious people can be intelligent. Both Brown and Hornbeck’s closed-mindedness causes them to behave cruelly to others—to ignore other possible viewpoints, and to argue, instead, for a kind of cynical violence against those who disagree with them. In contrast, Drummond and Cates are open-minded because they are willing to question the dogmas of religion and the dogmas of secularism. And Rachel, who finally realizes how important it is to think for herself, leaves her closed-minded father and begins a new life with Cates—a life unfettered by narrow viewpoints. Even Brady, a man of strong religious feeling, stops short of arguing, as Brown does, that non-believers ought to be sent to hell, castigated as sinners forever.

Thus Drummond’s final “weighing” of Darwin’s writings and the Bible has a clear symbolic meaning. Drummond believes, firmly, that one should not have to decide between two apparently restrictive viewpoints. Rather, Drummond takes both books with him, showing that he is open to a thought-system that includes elements of belief and fact—a mixture of ideas from many different places, representative of the broad, multifaceted nature of American life and culture itself. This openness toward all aspects of society becomes a central message of the play.

Open-Mindedness vs. Closed-Mindedness ThemeTracker

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Open-Mindedness vs. Closed-Mindedness Quotes in Inherit the Wind

Below you will find the important quotes in Inherit the Wind related to the theme of Open-Mindedness vs. Closed-Mindedness.
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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The Good Lord guv us the heat, and the Good Lord guv us the glands to sweat with.

Related Characters: Mrs. Krebs (speaker)
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:

Mrs. Krebs here expresses a common belief in town, in the run-up to the "monkey trial": that all things come from God. By this logic, even science must be subordinated to the plan of the Christian deity. Mrs. Krebs believes that any problem created by God likewise has a solution created by Him. Thus evolution, as taught by Cates, would not fit into God's overarching template for the world, since it is a solution that requires no guiding entity—it is, instead, a system that works on its own.

Although Mrs. Krebs does not engage in the debate between Cates, Drummond, and Brady in these terms, she nevertheless understands, as much of the town's population does, what is at stake between religious and secular (or scientific) concerns.

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.

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.

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 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. 

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.

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. 

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

Did you hear that, my friends? “Old World Monkeys”! According to Mr. Cates, you and I aren’t even descended from good American monkeys!

Related Characters: Matthew Harrison Brady (speaker), Bertram Cates
Related Symbols: Monkeys
Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:

Brady riles up his crowd, indicating that Cates's scientific teachings are not only unreligious but unpatriotic. Drummond and Hornbeck believe that it is instances like this that show Brady is "playing to his audience," and is, perhaps, relying on the ignorance and pliability of those around him. Brady likes to speak in longwinded paragraphs, and he is unafraid to make a jarring statement such as this one (bringing up the idea of "monkeys" again in order to make his audience feel outraged and superior), if it means it will pull the sympathies of those around him to his side.

But Drummond believes that Brady ultimately does his audience a disservice by appealing to their emotions rather than their intellect. Brady seems not to want to consider that those around him are capable of thinking critically, on their own, about the relationship between science and religion. This is exactly the opposite of Cates's original intention of teaching his students to keep an open mind.

Let’s put it this way, Howard. All this fuss and feathers about Evolution, do you think it hurt you any?
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. 

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. 

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.

The jury’s decision is unanimous. Bertram Cates is found guilty as charged!

Related Characters: The Judge (speaker), Bertram Cates
Page Number: 113
Explanation and Analysis:

The judge has, from the beginning, seemed to take Brady's side against Drummond and Cates, and the "justice" involved in the trial has seemed far from objective. Cates has never really felt that he would win the trial, but he and Drummond have each hoped that their side would be, at least, vindicated—that in the larger media swirl surrounding the case, their belief in scientific rationality and open-mindedness might be seem to prevail over religious absolutism.

But there is still the matter of the courtroom, the judge, and the jury. The jury is, after all, composed of people who live in Hillsboro, and the town has had a problem with Cates's teachings from the start. Thus the verdict is no great surprise, but Cates nevertheless might hope, at this point, that his side will "win out" in the national conversation about the events in Hillsboro. 

I feel I am . . . I have been convicted of violating an unjust law. I will continue in the future, as I have in the past, to oppose this law in any way I can.

Related Characters: Bertram Cates (speaker)
Page Number: 115
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Cates restates, to the crowd in the courtroom and to the audience, the fundamental position he has taken throughout the play. Cates is not a revolutionary—he does not wish to destroy the legal and educational systems as they are. He is not against religion or Christianity in the abstract. But he believes that there are realms better explained by science than by religion—that religion cannot be absolute force defining all humans' lives, especially the modern lives of the 20th century. 

Cates thus argues that he has done a moral thing by defending what he believes to be right, even in the face of public opinion and local law. Cates believes that the law can deviate from what is morally correct. In instances where this happens, a citizen has an obligation to follow his own moral compass, as Cates says he has done. 

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. 

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.