Twelve Angry Men

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Although the accused youth never appears as a character on stage, discussion of his actions and motivations drives the play. The youth is referred to as a “kid” by many of the jurors. He grew up in a slum without a mother, and is an immigrant—all facts that color the jurors ideas about him and his guilt. He is accused of stabbing his father to death.

Accused kid Quotes in Twelve Angry Men

The Twelve Angry Men quotes below are all either spoken by Accused kid or refer to Accused kid. 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:
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the The Dramatic Publishing Company edition of Twelve Angry Men published in 1983.
Act 1 Quotes

Murder in the first degree—premeditated homicide—is the most serious charge tried in our criminal courts. You've heard a long and complex case, gentlemen, and it is now your duty to sit down to try and separate the facts from the fancy. One man is dead. The life of another is at stake. If there is a reasonable doubt in your minds as to the guilt of the accused . . . then you must declare him not guilty. If, however, there is no reasonable doubt, then he must be found guilty. Whichever way you decide, the verdict must be unanimous. I urge you to deliberate honestly and thoughtfully. You are faced with a grave responsibility. Thank you, gentlemen.

Related Characters: Judge (speaker), Accused kid, Murdered father
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

The play opens with the judge in a criminal court case summarizing for both audience and jury what is at stake in this case. His words spell out the basic principles of the American legal system: a jury must declare the accused guilty if, and only if, his or her guilt has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt. This passage has the dual effect of setting the scene and introducing a few of the most contentious topics of the play. Broadly, the judge places the play in conversation with the American legal system. The setting of the play is timeless, but the twelve jurors represent a diverse body of Americans intended to present a variety of types of opinions from a variety of types of people, with a variety of types of prejudices and personalities--all in connection to the timeless legal and social issues addressed in the play. 

The topic of this play is justice, but also the way the very human jury thinks about and perceives justice. The judge establishes the jurors' responsibility to be a "grave" one and asks that they "deliberate honestly and thoughtfully." The next several lines of the play show a different reality, as the men complain about the court proceedings and rush the deliberation process. Furthermore, the idea of "reasonable doubt" is highlighted immediately in this opening passage. Reasonable doubt, what it is and what constitutes reasonable doubt in this specific case, will be under debate throughout the play--particularly when reasonable doubt is in the hands of unreasonable humans.

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Ten: It's tough to figure, isn't it? A kid kills his father. Bing! Just like that. Well, it's the element. They let the kids run wild. Maybe it serves ‘em right.

Related Characters: Ten (speaker), Four , Accused kid, Murdered father
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

Early dialogue in the play helps to establish the diverse characters of the twelve jurors. These men differ in age, occupation, experience, background, religion, and (presumably) race. These differences result in a variety of types of prejudices and sympathies, and the play often reveals why certain characters think in certain ways and make certain assumptions. In this passage, juror Ten is already establishing his character and prejudices. Throughout the play, he shows a dislike of the group of people to whom the defendant belongs. It seems that the kid accused of killing his father is poor and grew up in an impoverished neighborhood. His race is never specified, but because Ten groups the accused with people different than himself (a group he belittles and stereotypes, assuming everyone from that group to be the same), it may be that the accused kid belongs to a minority racial group as well (but this all depends on individual staging of the play, of course). 

Ten's vitriolic remarks escalate over the course of the play and eventually alienate other jurors who are shocked at the amount of unfounded hatred he displays. In this early scene, however, Ten's remarks against a whole group of people go relatively unnoticed by the other jurors. All the jurors exhibit forms of prejudice. Although the word "prejudice" normally has a negative connotation, this play presents a connected idea of "sympathy." Juror Eight is inclined to like and feel sorry for the accused kid because of his impoverished background, while Ten is inclined to dislike him. Both are forms of bias, and though sympathy is a more virtuous kind of bias in the world outside the courtroom, for a jury, all bias, whether positive or not, is supposed to be removed. 

Three: I never saw a guiltier man in my life... You sat right in court and heard the same thing I did. The man's a dangerous killer. You could see it.

...

Eight: He's nineteen years old.

Related Characters: Three (speaker), Eight (speaker), Accused kid
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

Unlike Ten's collective prejudice, Three displays a more specific and personal dislike of the accused kid. Eventually it becomes clear that Three has bad memories of his son and holds onto the accused kid's guilt to an irrational degree because of this strained relationship. Three is the least rational of the jurors. He is stubborn and he does not waffle like some of the others, but he bases his opinion on impressions and feelings, rather than facts. Here, he exhibits this tendency when he says "you could see" that the accused kid is a dangerous killer, simply by looking at him. Three's certainty of the kid's guilt is founded on shaky ground. At the same time, Eight's doubt is also emotionally-based, as his reply demonstrates. Where Three sees a killer, Eight sees a kid. Eight is inclined to give a kid the benefit of the doubt because of his age. 

From the beginning to the end of the play, Eight and Three reverse roles. At the beginning, Eight stands alone for "not guilty," and at the end, Three stands alone for "guilty." This parallel between the characters shows their similarities and differences. They both base their initial opinions of the kid on their prejudices, but they behave very differently when "taking a stand." Three continues his stubborn conviction based on his feelings, whereas Eight, despite his own sentiments, turns to logic and reasoning to address others. He does not fold under the pressure Three (and the others) put on him for standing alone.

Eight: There were eleven votes for guilty. It's not so easy for me to raise my hand and send a boy off to die without talking about it first.

Related Characters: Eight (speaker), Accused kid
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

The jurors begin their deliberations by taking a vote to see where they stand. In this vote, eleven men vote "guilty" and one votes "not-guilty." Eight's logic, as he states it initially, points out the rashness of the proceedings. These men are ready to let a kid accused of murder suffer the greatest punishment possible without thorough deliberation. Although it becomes clear that Eight has thought rationally about the details of the case, his initial "not-guilty" vote is based on a simple ideal of the American legal system. A twelve person jury is intended to be diverse, so that a case can be thoroughly discussed, prejudices countered, and a better decision reached than any one man might make alone. This requires discussion and debate. 

Despite its initial appearance of uniformity, this jury is actually quite diverse (as much as possible in a group of only men), with a variety of conflicting opinions that come to light when they take the time to discuss them. The legal system is designed to move the reality of humanity (which is messy with prejudices, boredom, and emotions) to a more perfect state in which justice can be served. Getting twelve men to agree is more likely to achieve justice than following the will of any one man. This is not always the case, but Eight reminds the others of the ideal of justice that they should strive toward. He takes a stand in this scene by casting the one dissenting vote. This action is heroic because he is upholding the higher values of justice rather than serving his own interests. 

Eight: I don't want to change your mind.... I want to talk for a while. Look – this boy's been kicked around all his life. You know – living in a slum – his mother dead since he was nine. That's not a very good head start. He's a tough, angry kid. You know why slum kids get that way? Because we knock 'em on the head once a day, every day. I think maybe we owe him a few words. That's all.

Related Characters: Eight (speaker), Accused kid
Page Number: 15-16
Explanation and Analysis:

Eight's initial explanation of why he wants to discuss the accused kid's case does not include an analysis of evidence or the mention of reasonable doubt. This is a notable nuance of the play: Eight is not free from prejudice, despite his critical heroic role in this play. Eight is presented as a hero who persuades the other jurors to change their minds and spare a youth through his thoughtful arguments for reasonable doubt.

This passage shows, however, that emotion, not logic, motivates him. Despite his honorable behavior in granting the defendant's case thorough discussion rather than a rash decision, Eight is just as predisposed to think in certain ways and make certain assumptions as the other jurors. He is sympathetic toward the defendant, and this is partially because of his own feeling of guilt. He sees himself and his group as repeatedly and unfairly mistreating the members of the defendant's group. Eight is biased in favor of the accused kid because he sees his toughness and anger as the result of this mistreatment.

Eight believes in giving each person consideration of his circumstances when considering his crime. He points out the hardships in the kid's life, including the death of his mother. From a legal standpoint, the death of his mother should have no bearing on the kid's guilt. The crime, and not his life, is what is under consideration. But humans are not fully rational beings, and Eight exhibits the power of sympathy to sway opinions.

Ten: I don't mind telling you this, mister. We don't owe the kid a thing. He got a fair trial, didn't he? You know what that trial cost? He's lucky he got it. Look, we're all grownups here. You're not going to tell us that we're supposed to believe him, knowing what he is. I've lived among 'em all my life. You can't believe a word they say. You know that.

Related Characters: Ten (speaker), Eight, Accused kid
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:

Ten presents a counter-point to Eight's sympathy for the accused kid. Just as Eight is more inclined to give time, consideration, and understanding to the kid because of his circumstances, Ten is less inclined to give these things. He sees the kid as representative of a group that he dislikes and distrusts. His prejudice against "them" leads him to conclude that "you can't believe a word they say." Who the "they" are exactly is unclear, but the ambiguity contributes to the timelessness and universality of the play. If this play was staged in a certain city at a certain time period, the audience might automatically assume the kid belongs to a group they know to be poor and unprivileged. In a different city, at a different time period, the audience might instinctively assign the kid to a different group. There have always been groups that are judged and discriminated against by the majority and the kid could belong to any of these. 

Interestingly, Ten says that he lived among this group all his life, yet he doesn't identify as one of them. Does Ten's personal exposure to this group lead to his particular vitriol against them? Or is this an exaggeration to explain why he feels justified making such claims? Perhaps suffering at the hands of specific people in Ten's life have made him the way that he is. Whatever the reason for his prejudice, it is clear that Ten's understanding of justice for the kid is different than Eight's. 

Act 2 Quotes

Eight: You want to see this boy die because you personally want it—not because of the facts.

Three: Shut up!

[He lunges at Eight, but is caught by two of the jurors and held. He struggles as Eight watches calmly.]

Three: Let me go. I'll kill him. I’ll kill him!

Eight: You don't really mean you'll kill me, do you?

Related Characters: Three (speaker), Eight (speaker), Accused kid
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

Eight argues that the kid's overhead yell of "I'll kill you" should not be treated as evidence of intention. Many people would say such a thing in an impassioned moment and not follow through with it, or even actually mean it. This is a (relatively) common phrase expressing anger, and should not be treated as a statement of intent or premeditation. Minutes later, the tension between Eight and Three rises to a fevered pitch, as Eight accuses Three of arguing for the accused kid to die because he "personally wants it." This conclusion shows the difference between ideal justice and reality. Eight is pointing out that Three is motivated by personal judgements. He is not operating as an unbiased judge of the situation. 

This accusation angers Three, who is always quick to respond emotionally. His anger seems to derive from the fact that Eight would make such a bold and offensive claim implying that Three wants someone to die. Three's anger and following comments hurt his reputation far more than Eight's accusation, however, because he seems to confirm his own hotheadedness, while also proving Eight's point from earlier. He yells that he'll kill Eight, because he's angry that Eight would accuse him of wanting someone dead, which is a very ironic twist. Eight's reply points almost too neatly to their earlier conversation. Does Three really mean this, or is he speaking in the heat of passion? And if he doesn't really mean it, why couldn't the same have been true of the accused kid's circumstances?

Act 3 Quotes

Five: …Anyone who’s ever used a switch knife would never have stabbed downward. You don’t handle a switch knife that way. You use it underhanded. [Illustrates.]
Eight: Then he couldn’t have made the kind of wound that killed his father.
Five: I suppose it’s conceivable that he could have made the wound, but it’s not likely, not if he had any experience with switch knives, and we know that the kid had a lot of experience with switch knives.

Related Characters: Five (speaker), Eight (speaker), Accused kid, Murdered father
Related Symbols: Switch knife
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:

Five's experience living in an impoverished community where violence among his neighbors was commonplace turns out to provide key information in the case. Because he has seen switch knives used before, Five is able to demonstrate that they are used underhand rather than overhand. Three tried to demonstrate that the shorter son made a wound on his taller father by stabbing downward with an overhand stroke. Five says that the accused kid could have handled the knife in this way, and could have made the stab wound, but it seems unlikely that he would have done it in this way, given his previous experience with handling such a knife. 

This discrepancy between the way the wound was made and the way an experienced knife handler would have made the wound introduces reasonable doubt of the assumption that the kid stabbed his father. Why would he have done something out of character and incommensurate with his experience? This seems unlikely. The language Five uses highlights the ideas of certainty and doubt. Eight says that the accused kid couldn't have made this wound. Five corrects him, saying, "it's conceivable that he could have made the wound, but it's not likely." Reasonable doubt does not require that the jury be sure the kid didn't make the wound. But it does require that they have good reason to suspect he might not have made it. This is what Five provides with his analysis of how the switch knife is held.

Ten: …You know, they get drunk, and bang, someone’s lying in the gutter. Nobody’s blaming them. That’s how they are. You know what I mean? Violent!…Most of them, it’s like they have no feelings…They’re no good. There’s not one of ‘em who’s any good. We better watch out. Take it from me.

Related Characters: Ten (speaker), Accused kid, Murdered father
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:

Ten's vitriolic hatred of the group to which the accused kid belongs finally spills over into a cruel tirade in which it seems inconceivable to him that the other jurors are changing their minds and pardoning the kid. As Ten speaks, the jurors begin to leave the table and stand at the window. This is a silent protest against the blatant prejudice and hatred in Ten's words, as if the jurors are refusing to listen to and condone what he says. Ten seems to burn himself out with this speech and to realize that the other jurors do not agree with him, as he silently joins the majority for "not guilty" after this final tirade fails. Perhaps he realizes that he has gone too far and exposed a level of hatred that is shocking even to others who have their own sets of prejudices. 

Ten is unable to see even the slightest hope of redemption for the group to which the accused kid belongs. He says "there's not one of 'em who's any good." He refers to them as "violent" and sees this violence as part of their natures: "that's how they are." He sees a lifestyle (or race) as the source of this violence, a lifestyle of drinking and violence that perpetuates more drinking and violence. The shocking part of this speech is Ten's lack of sympathy for people stuck in a community plagued by violence. Instead, he cautions his fellow jurors to "watch out" for these types. 

Three: …You made all the arguments. You can’t turn now. A guilty man’s going to be walking the streets. A murderer! He’s got to die! Stay with me!...

Four: I’m sorry. I’m convinced. I don’t think I’m wrong often, but I guess I was this once. There is a reasonable doubt in my mind.

Related Characters: Three (speaker), Four (speaker), Accused kid
Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:

Juror Four maintains his rational thinking throughout the play. He switches sides with grace once he feels that "there is a reasonable doubt in my mind." In his measured thinking and unbiased rationality, Four embodies a sort of "ideal juror." He holds onto the ideal of the justice system--that reasonable doubt results in a "not guilty" verdict--and he isn't swayed by passion or stubbornness, but by measured persuasion. He exhibits strength in this passage by publicly admitting he was wrong. This shows the contrast between him and Three, who stubbornly sticks to his viewpoint. Four demonstrates that stubbornness is not the same thing as taking a righteous stand, and that gracefully yielding is more valuable than being stubborn in the face of reason. 

Three is stubborn, but he is also certain of the kid's guilt, as if blind to the rational arguments made by others. He is horrified by the thought of a murderer walking the streets free. He feels certain that the kid must die to pay for his crime. Three sees Four's rational arguments against the kid (and his initial "guilty" vote) as evidence that Four was on his side, rather than as examples of Four's rational thinking. It is difficult for Three to imagine being convinced by evidence when, throughout the play, it is clear that he makes his judgements through gut instinct, as he did when he stated that anyone "could see" that the kid was a murderer, just by looking at him. 

Eight: [to Three] They’re waiting. [Three sees that he is alone. He moves to table and pulls switch knife out of table and walks over to Eight with it. Three is holding knife in approved knife-fighter fashion. Three looks long and hard at juror Eight and weaves a bit from side to side as he holds knife with point of it in direction of Eight’s belly. Eight speaks quietly, firmly.] Not guilty. [Three turns knife around and Eight takes it by handle. Eight closes knife and puts it away.]

Three: Not guilty!

Related Characters: Three (speaker), Eight (speaker), Accused kid
Related Symbols: Switch knife
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:

This poignant final confrontation between Three and Eight ends the play with all the jurors unanimously agreeing that the accused kid is "not guilty." This scene moves the struggle from one of logic, prejudice, and words to a struggle that is nonverbal and even potentially violent. Throughout this play, the jurors have used their words to persuade each other. In some cases, this has meant using logic and precision, and in other cases this has meant using personal experience, passion, or emotion. Justice has been sought despite the flaws of prejudice and hatred, despite the biases of the diverse jury. But in this scene it seems that the struggle has shifted from a struggle between "guilty" and "not guilty" to a personal struggle between Three and Eight. 

Eight says "not guilty" and Three repeats the words after him, surrendering the knife in the same moment. This action symbolizes Three's surrender. Eight's way of persuading Three in this passage is mostly nonverbal. He seems more powerful than Three because he does not seem afraid, even though Three is threatening him with a knife. Three, on the other hand, notes that "he is alone" and seems cowed by this. Three does not take a stand, as Eight did, but surrenders when he is the only juror on one side of the equation. Even though Eight has achieved a great feat by convincing eleven jurors to switch to his side, the strength of Eight's character calls the process of justice into question. Eight is smart, persuasive, courageous, and powerful (more powerful than Three in this passage), and it seems these things, more so than the truth of the kid's situation, have resulted in the conclusion of this play and the justice that is served. 

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Accused kid Character Timeline in Twelve Angry Men

The timeline below shows where the character Accused kid appears in Twelve Angry Men. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Stubbornness and Taking a Stand Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
Juror Eight replies that he wants to be heard out. He explains that “slum kids” get tough and angry because “we” – meaning society – are always knocking them down.... (full context)
Act 2
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...that he would vote “not guilty” if he could see any evidence in the accused kid’s favor. Two agrees that the kid is clearly guilty. Four wonders what "guilty beyond a... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Seven asks Eight who killed the father if the kid was not the murderer. He wonders who else could have had a motive for doing... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Three says the old man heard the kid yell at his father, “I'm going to kill you,” and then heard a body hit... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...is incredibly loud. Eight then points out that the old man swore he heard the kid’s scream and the body fall. The woman across the street saw the murder through the... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Stubbornness and Taking a Stand Theme Icon
...raises another point. He says that even if the old man could have heard the kid yell, “I'm going to kill you,” the boy probably wasn't using this phrase to indicate... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
Three disagrees and says that the way the kid said it indicates that he meant it. He screamed it at the top of his... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Seven wants to know why the kid’s lawyer wouldn't have brought up the points that Eight has raised. Five says that lawyers... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...heard someone on the stairs, but didn't see the person and assumed it was the kid. (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
Three says that Eight is making up wild stories because he feels sorry for slum kids. He says the kid is guilty and he must pay. Eight asks if Three is... (full context)
Act 3
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Stubbornness and Taking a Stand Theme Icon
...run downstairs nor could he have heard the scream. He also says that if the kid did yell, “I'm going to kill you” then Three’s actions show that this doesn't mean... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...change his vote and says, “we are not a hung jury” because he believes the kid is guilty. The discussion must go on. Four asks Two why he changed his mind.... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...how long it took him to get to the door, but right about seeing the kid running down the stairs? He points out that the absence of fingerprints on the knife... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...points out that the father may have writhed around for a few seconds, and the kid may have stood there watching. Perhaps the kid held his father’s mouth to prevent him... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Four points out that their reenactment didn't take the time it took the kid to run down the stairs into consideration. Four says the old man may have been... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...gone over in court extensively. Two says he wasn't convinced. It seems like the shorter kid should not have stabbed his taller father with a downward stroke. (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Eight points out that the kid was an experienced knife fighter; he was sent to reform school for stabbing someone else.... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...who has used such a knife before would never stab downward. Eight confirms that the kid could not have made the type of downward stab that killed his father. Three and... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...that the jurors look at the situation logically and consistently. He asks them: is the kid smart or is the kid dumb? Eight says that this kid is experienced with a... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...someone else on the train might've also seen the murder. It would take a dumb kid to take that chance. Eight continues the kid is dumb enough to use an obvious... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...can the old man lie only part of the time? Eight says that for the kid to be guilty he must be both stupid and smart and for the kid to... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...those of Three, Four, and Ten. Ten says he cannot understand how others believe the kid is innocent. He says that "those people" always lie and that they don't feel the... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...and Twelve go to the window. Ten says these people are no good and this kid is one of them. Three stays at the table, while Four gets up and moves... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...unable to fall sleep and turned to the window at 12:10 AM. She saw the kid stab his father. Four says that in view of this testimony, he can't vote “not... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...to put her glasses on. He says this woman may have thought she saw the kid in the act of killing, but she might have only seen a blur. Three wonders... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Stubbornness and Taking a Stand Theme Icon
Eight asks Three for his arguments in favor of the kid’s guilt. He says that they have time to keep discussing the case. Three appeals to... (full context)