A former high-school biology teacher in Hillsboro, Bert Cates is indicted and imprisoned for teaching evolution, which violates the state’s no-evolution teaching law. Cates, represented by famous progressive lawyer Henry Drummond, is showed to… read analysis of Bertram Cates
A dear friend and love interest of Cates’, Rachel Brown, daughter of Reverend Brown, Hillsboro’s “religious leader,” believes that Cates should not have broken the state’s no-evolution law, no matter how silly it… read analysis of Rachel Brown
Matthew Harrison Brady
A three-time Presidential candidate (and runner-up) and famous public speaker, Brady comes to Hillsboro to try the case against Cates for the prosecution and is treated like a hero. During the trial, however, Brady is… read analysis of Matthew Harrison Brady
E. K. Hornbeck
A muckraking, progressive reporter from the Baltimore Herald, Hornbeck a wry, skeptical man distrustful of all religions and of religious bombast generally. Hornbeck supports Cates and finds religious believers to be inherently stupid—Drummond later… read analysis of E. K. Hornbeck
A young boy and former student of Cates’, Howard claims, in the trial, that Cates taught him something of Darwin’s theory of evolution, but Howard admits that this theory had very little impact on his… read analysis of Howard
Reverend Jeremiah Brown
Hillsboro’s “religious leader,” Reverend Brown, Rachel’s father, is a fire-and-brimstone Christian who believes that sinners, like Cates, should be damned to hellfire and torment. Rachel, Brady, and others in the town do not… read analysis of Reverend Jeremiah Brown
The Judge, like Davenport, seems not to want evolution taught in schools, but he, too—this time under the Mayor’s influence—is willing to give Cates a light sentence, in order to avoid attracting national attention… read analysis of The Judge
Another religious man called to the jury, Sillers admits that his wife does most of his “religious” thinking for him—Drummond approves him, as do Brady and Davenport initially. But the latter two worry that… read analysis of George Sillers
A young boy whom Cates taught, and who demonstrated a great aptitude for science, Stebbins died of drowning, but was not given a formal funeral by Reverend Brown because Stebbins was not baptized. Cates found… read analysis of Tommy Stebbins
Brady’s quiet and supportive wife, Mrs. Brady warns her husband, repeatedly, not to eat too much or over-exert himself. Her fears become justified, later, when Brady dies of a stroke at the trial’s end.
A young girl in Hillsboro, Melinda is teased, in the opening scene, by Howard, a young boy. Howard tells Melinda that Melinda’s family descends from worms and monkeys, to her horror and dismay.
The bailiff of the city jail and court, Meeker is kind to Rachel and Cates and often arranges for the two to speak to one another in the courtroom, after hours.
Brady’s co-prosecutor and the district attorney in Hillsboro, Tom Davenport believes that religion should be taught in schools, but also is more moderate than Brady—he speaks with less flourish and seems, ultimately, relieved that, although Cates is found guilty, his punishment is light.
A shy but practical politician, the Mayor is initially awed by Brady’s presence in Hillsboro, but later asks the Judge to pass a light sentence on Cates, in order to make Hillsboro seem like a relatively moderate, and not a “medieval,” place.
A quiet man without much by way of formal education, the Storekeeper tells Hornbeck that he has no opinion about Darwin versus Creationism, since “opinions” don’t matter much as far as business is concerned.
A fervently religious woman in Hillsboro, Mrs. Krebs believes that God himself grants the hot weather and the sweat glands human use to comfort themselves in hot weather.
A religious man called to the jury, Bannister is approved by Brady because he is a religious man, and by Drummond because he cannot read—meaning he has read neither the Bible nor Darwin.
Howard’s mother, Mrs. Blair is mostly concerned that Howard puts on a good appearance for the arrival of Brady in Hillsboro.
A young boy selling Bibles in Hillsboro, Elijah cannot read—Hornbeck jokes with Elijah during the scene of Brady’s arrival in town.
A prospective juror who says he believes in God. Drummond does not accept him as a juror.