Twelve Angry Men

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Nine Character Analysis

An elderly, good-natured man, Nine is compassionate and thoughtful, unlike many of the other jurors. He is the first to change his “guilty” vote to “not guilty” during the secret ballot vote. He does so primarily because he respects Eight’s courage in standing alone and wants to have the chance to see the case fully discussed.

Nine Quotes in Twelve Angry Men

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

Nine: (to Ten very slowly). I don't know that. What a terrible thing for a man to believe! Since when is dishonesty a group characteristic? You have no monopoly on the truth.

Related Characters: Nine (speaker), Ten
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:

Ten's prejudiced statements against the group that the accused kid belongs to turn Nine against him. Nine sees Ten's statements as illogical because they assume that generalizations about groups of people are true. He questions Ten: "since when is dishonesty a group characteristic?" This remark points out the flaws in all prejudices rather than providing commentary on this specific example. The accused kid might be honest or dishonest. The audience never discovers this one way or the other in the course of the play. However, Nine makes the argument that to assume dishonesty of an individual because he is part of a certain group is flawed logic. Even if a stereotype exists for a reason, it is unfair to apply this stereotype to everyone in the group. There will always be many exceptions to the rule. 

Nine shows Ten that prejudices are flawed because they assume more certainty than one should rationally claim. Ten assumes that the kid is dishonest and, therefore, guilty. Nine says this is a horrible thing to believe because it leads to certainty without any foundation. Ten makes an assumption without evidence in a specific case. Yet, he is very certain about his assumption. Nine, on the other hand, feels it is worthwhile to always consider the exceptions to the rule and to avoid broad assumptions. He lives his life with more doubt and more questions because he does not make assumptions about groups of people as a whole. He looks (or tries to look) at people as individuals. 

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Seven: Now wait a second. What are you, the guy's lawyer? Listen, there are still eleven of us who think he's guilty. You're alone. What do you think you're gonna accomplish? If you want to be stubborn and hang this jury, he'll be tried again and found guilty, sure as he's born.

Eight: You're probably right.

Seven: So what are you gonna do about it? We can be here all night.

Nine: It's only one night. A man may die.

Related Characters: Seven (speaker), Eight (speaker), Nine (speaker)
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:

Seven is one of the least engaged jurors; he seems to prioritize concluding the case and leaving, with little respect for the seriousness of the situation, as this passage shows. Despite his motives for rushing the decision, Seven makes a legitimate point about Eight taking a stand against the rest of the jurors. In choosing to stand alone, Eight is preventing a decision that is held by the majority, and that would be reinforced by another group of people if Eight's stubbornness resulted in a hung jury. Eight acknowledges the truth of these words. This shows the tension between stubbornness and taking a stand in the play. When is it good to stand up for what you believe and when is it appropriate to acknowledge that your thinking could be at fault? The play seems to answer that both are important. Three, at the end of the play, must yield to the majority. Eight, at the beginning, takes a stand for a good cause. 

Nine highlights Seven's frivolity in the face of what is at stake in these deliberations: a man's life. Seven's impatience with Eight is partly justified because there are times when one should be able to admit they could be wrong in the face of an overwhelming majority who disagrees. But Seven's impatience is not justified in terms of the ideal proceedings of justice. The legal system is designed to serve justice after thorough consideration and deliberation, and Seven is unwilling to sacrifice his time, even when another man's life is at stake. 

Act 2 Quotes

Nine: [Pointing at Eight] This gentleman chose to stand alone against us. That's his right. It takes a great deal of courage to stand alone even if you believe in something very strongly. He left the verdict up to us. He gambled for support, and I gave it to him. I want to hear more. The vote is ten to two.

Related Characters: Nine (speaker), Eight
Page Number: 28-29
Explanation and Analysis:

In the face of ongoing pressure to reveal who changed their vote to "not guilty," Nine reveals that it was he who changed his mind. It seems that he speaks up in order to protect Five, whom Three assumes is the "culprit." In this passage, Nine explains why he changed his vote. His explanation tackles the difference between stubbornness and taking a stand. He admires Eight for exercising his right to disagree because to do so takes courage, a value not included in simple stubbornness, which is generally just selfish. Nine is curious about what else Eight will say because of Eight's willingness to take a risk and to "gamble for support."

Interestingly, Nine's change of heart isn't based on logic or on information about the actual case. It is based solely on the force of Eight's character and his persuasive request for support. While Nine is the oldest juror, and inclined to measured thinking and speaking, this passage shows that he "thinks with his heart," like many of the other jurors. He is persuaded not by reason, but by emotion. This is a reflection of human character more broadly, and it demonstrates the power of Eight's dissension and persuasive speech, as more and more jurors join the "not guilty" side. 

Nine: It's just that I looked at him for a very long time. The seam of his jacket was split under the arm. Did you notice that? He was a very old man with a torn jacket, and he carried two canes. I think I know him better than anyone here. This is a quiet, frightened, insignificant man who has been nothing all his life, who has never had recognition—his name in the newspapers. Nobody knows him after seventy-five years. That's a very sad thing. A man like this needs to be recognized. To be questioned, and listened to, and quoted just once. This is very important.

Twelve: And you're trying to tell us he lied about a thing like this just so that he could be important?

Nine: No. He wouldn't really lie. But perhaps he'd make himself believe that he heard those words and recognized the boy's face.

Related Characters: Nine (speaker), The old man downstairs
Page Number: 33-34
Explanation and Analysis:

Nine feels that he understands the character of the old man who testified because he can relate most to him, as an old and (presumably) overlooked man himself. He points out details about the old man that he paid attention to and that might have seemed insignificant to the other jurors. He explains that the old man's ragged coat and his insecurities make him someone who is eager and grateful for the attention of the court. The psychological impact of this, to someone who is in desperate need of attention, will be to prolong that interaction. Twelve misunderstands this, as is clear when he asks whether Nine means that the old man lied in his testimony. Lying implies that the old man knowingly deceived the court and the jurors. Nine is speaking of something more subtle: the old man's slight exaggeration of his own certainty. He might have come to believe that he definitely saw the accused kid in the stairwell when in fact he wasn't certain at first. 

This passage provides another angle on the relationship between doubt and certainty. Doubt and certainty are not only the products of reason, but of emotion and memory. Even an eyewitness can be unsure of what he or she saw. Emotional pressure can impact one's certainty. It is easy, with time, to become more or less certain of what happened before one's eyes. Eye witnesses can be very unreliable for this reason. The doubt or certainty of the jurors is based on evidence which is already shifting between doubt and certainty. 

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Nine Character Timeline in Twelve Angry Men

The timeline below shows where the character Nine 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
...nervously offers gum to the men at the water cooler and makes idle chat. Juror Nine responds to Juror Seven with a polite no. Juror Twelve complains about the heat in... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...he lives among “them”, and is convinced that none of “them” can be trusted. Juror Nine calls out Juror Ten on his prejudice and says Ten doesn’t have a “monopoly on... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Stubbornness and Taking a Stand Theme Icon
...case. Juror Seven angrily responds that he doesn’t want to stay all night, deliberating. Juror Nine retorts that it’s just one night, and a boy’s life is at stake. (full context)
Act 2
...it was that made him change. As Three and Seven insist that Five tell them, Nine interrupts that he was the one who changed his vote. Nine explains that he recognized... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...have had a motive for doing so. Eight says perhaps someone with an old grudge. Nine says it's not easy to explain his doubt, and that it's only a feeling that... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...are calling the old man a liar. He asks why the old man would lie. Nine replies that he looked at the old man for a long time and he noticed... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Nine says that the old man wouldn't lie, but he might make himself believe something that... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...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)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Stubbornness and Taking a Stand Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...the door in the 15 seconds that he said it took him to do so. Nine reminds them that the old man was very positive about the length of time. Three... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...man had to be helped into the witness chair and could only move very slowly. Nine says, “it's a long walk for a man who uses canes.” Eight paces off the... (full context)
Act 3
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
Nine thanks Eleven for reminding them of their opportunity to be unbiased judges. Four says he's... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
Nine says that because the woman across the tracks saw the murder, someone else on the... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...to move from his bedroom to the door, but it must've been almost 40 seconds. Nine asks, can the old man lie only part of the time? Eight says that for... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...As he speaks, Five gets up from the table and goes to the window, then Nine gets up and goes to the window, and then Seven does. (full context)
Stubbornness and Taking a Stand Theme Icon
...jury. Eight says that there is nothing the rest of them can do about that. Nine comments that it takes a lot of courage to stand alone, which echoes his earlier... (full context)