Twelve Angry Men

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The woman across the street Character Analysis

A neighbor of the accused kid, this woman testifies in court that she saw the murder occur through the windows of the passing train. Her testimony is brought up as suspect by some jurors late in the play because she wears glasses and might have been confused about what and whom she saw.

The woman across the street Quotes in Twelve Angry Men

The Twelve Angry Men quotes below are all either spoken by The woman across the street or refer to The woman across the street. 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 2 Quotes

Eight: An el train takes ten seconds to pass a given point, or two seconds per car. That el had been going by the old man's window for at least six seconds and maybe more, before the body fell, according to the woman. The old man would have had to hear the boy say, "I'm going to kill you," while the front of the el was roaring past his nose. It's not possible that he could have heard it.

Related Characters: Eight (speaker), The old man downstairs, The woman across the street
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

This passage details one of Eight's arguments that introduces doubt into the case. The old man, one of the witnesses, heard the accused kid yell, "I'm going to kill you," and this piece of evidence helped solidify both the identity of the killer and the boy's intentions. However, the other main witness described these events through the window of a train roaring past the apartment building. How could the old man have heard the boy yell over the sound of the train? How can both these testimonies be true? By finding an inconsistency between the two testimonies, Eight calls both into question. Someone must have made a mistake or be lying, and this discredits the full testimony of the witness. It is unclear which witness is at fault, and so the jurors begin to doubt everything they accepted as fact from both witnesses. 

Over the course of this play, there is a gradual shift from certainty to doubt among the jurors. Certainty leads to a verdict of "guilty." They are never sure of the accused kid's innocence, and yet they begin to realize that his guilt is not certain. This doubt leads to a verdict of "not guilty." The terms "guilty" and "not guilty" reflect the relationship between certainty and doubt in a legal case. The terms are not "guilty" and "innocent"--instead, reasonable doubt is enough for a "not guilty" verdict. This shift from certainty to doubt occurs when the jurors begin to doubt the eyewitnesses' accounts of what happened.

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The woman across the street Character Timeline in Twelve Angry Men

The timeline below shows where the character The woman across the street appears in Twelve Angry Men. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 2
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...a body hit the floor before seeing the kid running down the stairs. Twelve says the woman across the street looked into the open window and saw the murder occur. Three says this ought to... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
Four points out that the woman across the street remembers the most insignificant details in her testimony, including that she saw the murder occur... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...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 final two cars of the elevated train. Therefore, the train... (full context)
Act 3
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 train might've also seen the... (full context)
Reflection of American Society Theme Icon
Prejudice vs. Sympathies Theme Icon
...the boy is guilty and that the most important evidence comes from the testimony of the woman across the street . Three instantly agrees, also saying that this is the most important testimony. (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Eight suggests they go over the woman ’s testimony in detail. Four says that the woman explained how she went to bed... (full context)
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
...chime. Eight asks Two if he wears his glasses to bed. Eight points out that the woman who testified was wearing glasses. Eleven excitedly remembers that she wore bifocals. Four says it’s... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Certainty and Doubt Theme Icon
Eight says that he suspects the woman wouldn't have put on her glasses to glance out the window. The lights went out... (full context)