Twelve Angry Men

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Five Character Analysis

A young man whose youth shows in his timid nature. He quickly desires to vote not guilty, but only has the courage to do so when following Eight and Nine’s lead. He cowers under Three’s anger at him. Five grew up very poor, and he is sympathetic with the low economic background of the accused.

Five Quotes in Twelve Angry Men

The Twelve Angry Men quotes below are all either spoken by Five or refer to Five. 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

Five: I've lived in a slum all my life.

Ten: Oh, now wait a second!

Five: I used to play in a back yard that was filled with garbage. Maybe it still smells on me.

Foreman: Now let's be reasonable. There's nothing personal.

[Five stands up.]

Five: There is something personal!

Related Characters: Foreman (speaker), Five (speaker), Ten (speaker)
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

Juror Five, who is more youthful than the other jurors and who comes from a poor background, takes objection to Ten's ongoing prejudice against the group of people that includes the kid. This prejudice seems to be based on the group's low socio-economic class, which Ten sees as contributing to their violence toward others and their deceptive natures. Five realizes that Ten could be speaking about him, indirectly, because his background makes him a member of this group. Ten immediately backtracks and the Foreman tries to soothe the situation, but the Foreman's comment points out the problem with Ten's prejudice. The Foreman tries to soothe Five by saying that their is nothing personal in Ten's comments, meaning he is not directly attacking Five. But Five sees how his prejudice, although spoken generically about a group of people, directly impacts individual people, of which he could be considered one. 

This diversity within the jury shows the jury to be a "slice" of American life. Ten is pitted against the accused, but Five is sympathetic toward him because he sees the similarities in their lives. The jurors represent a variety of different viewpoints because of their different backgrounds. Because of this diversity, the jury, as a whole, is able to consider the accused kid and the evidence from a variety of different angles of prejudice and sympathy that, ideally, balance each other out in their decision-making process. 

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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.

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Five Character Timeline in Twelve Angry Men

The timeline below shows where the character Five appears in Twelve Angry Men. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
As the jurors enter, some go to the water cooler, Juror Five lights a pipe, and Juror Seven opens the window a bit wider, while still others... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...He adds that he is, however, fine with the defendant—“that kid”—being locked up forever. Juror Five comments that he didn’t know that jury room doors are locked, and he’d never thought... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...at the time of the murder, and Juror Three quickly jumps in to agree. Juror Five questions why the boy didn’t have a ticket stub for the movies, but Juror Eight... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...says it’s not relevant why many criminals come from slums, which they all “know”. Juror Five responds by telling of growing up in a slum and playing in a place full... (full context)
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...and Juror Four both think it is a stupid question with an obvious answer. Juror Five looks around before answering that he’s not sure. (full context)
Act 2
Seven assumes that it was Five who changed his vote, and asks what it was that made him change. As Three... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...a guilty man is released and sometimes an innocent man is accused. Three apologizes to Five saying that he didn't mean anything personal by his accusation that Five was the one... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...jurors how long they think it takes an elevated train to pass a given point. Five guesses 10 or 12 seconds and Two agrees. Eight asks if anyone in the jury... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...father. Ten says that the kid is not bright enough to consider such a risk. Five says that he would like to change his vote to “not guilty.” (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
Four asks Five to explain why he's changed his vote. Five says that he thinks there is a... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...know why the kid’s lawyer wouldn't have brought up the points that Eight has raised. Five says that lawyers can't think of everything. Seven, exasperated, asks whether, because of Eight, they... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...is that Eight is the one who always wants to see exhibits from the trial. Five and Nine quickly add that they want to see this exhibit as well. (full context)
Act 3
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...where each juror stands. The Foreman, Three, Four, Seven, Ten, and Twelve vote guilty. Two, Five, Six, Eight, Nine, and Eleven vote not guilty. The vote is evenly split. (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...he's “sort of swinging back toward guilty.” Eleven says he is now in real doubt. Five says, “guilty. I was right the first time.” The vote is 9 to 3 in... (full context)
Stubbornness and Taking a Stand Theme Icon
...cries, “look out!” But Three stops the knife just shy of Eight's chest. Six and Five don't find it funny, although Three laughs. (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...Eight says that holding the knife overhand seems like an awkward way to handle it. Five suddenly exclaims that he has seen knife fights before in his community. “Far too many... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
Five says that a switch knife is always used underhanded, and that anyone who has used... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...part of their natures and that they don't care about human life. As he speaks, Five gets up from the table and goes to the window, then Nine gets up and... (full context)