Inherit the Wind

Bertram Cates Character Analysis

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 be a sensitive, thoughtful teacher, one who might even believe in God but believes, more importantly, that science ought to be taught in science classes. Although Cates is convicted of breaking the state’s law, the law itself is showed, during the trial, to be a vestige of an older, less religiously-tolerant society, and Cates is only fined 100 dollars for his “crime.”

Bertram Cates Quotes in Inherit the Wind

The Inherit the Wind quotes below are all either spoken by Bertram Cates or refer to Bertram Cates. 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:
Science vs. Religion Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Ballantine Books edition of Inherit the Wind published in 2003.
Act 1, Scene 1 Quotes

Bert, it’s still not too late. Why can’t you admit you’re wrong? If the biggest man in the country . . . –if Matthew Harrison Brady comes here to tell the whole world how wrong you are . . . .
You still think I did wrong?

Related Characters: Bertram Cates (speaker), Rachel Brown (speaker)
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

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You make it sound as if Bert is a hero. I’d like to think that, but I can’t. A schoolteacher is a public servant: I th9ink he should do what the law and the school-board want him to.

Related Characters: Rachel Brown (speaker), Bertram Cates
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 1, Scene 2 Quotes

Mr. Drummond. You’ve got to call the whole thing off. It’s not too late. Bert knows he did wrong. He didn’t mean to. And he’s sorry. Now why can’t he just stand up and say to everybody: “I did wrong. I broke a law. I admit it. I won’t do it again.”

Related Characters: Rachel Brown (speaker), Bertram Cates, Henry Drummond
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:

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If you’ll stick by me, Rache—well, we can fight it out.

Related Characters: Bertram Cates (speaker), Rachel Brown
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 2, Scene 1 Quotes

Do we call down hellfire on the man who has sinned against the Word? . . . Strike down this sinner, as Thou didst Thine enemies of old, in the days of the Pharaohs!
No! No, Father. Don’t pray to destroy Bert!

Related Characters: Rachel Brown (speaker), Reverend Jeremiah Brown (speaker), Bertram Cates
Page Number: 66
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 2, Scene 2 Quotes

Did you hear that, my friends? “Old World Monkeys”! According to Mr. Cates, you and I aren’t even descended from good American monkeys!

Related Characters: Matthew Harrison Brady (speaker), Bertram Cates
Related Symbols: Monkeys
Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:

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Tommy Stebbins used to come over to the boarding house and look through Bert’s microscope. Bert said the boy had a quick mind, and he might even be a scientist when he grew up. At the funeral, Pa preached that Tommy didn’t die in a state of grace, because his folks had never had him baptized . . . .
Tell ‘em what your father really said! That Tommy’s soul was damned, writhing in hellfire!

Related Characters: Bertram Cates (speaker), Rachel Brown (speaker), Reverend Jeremiah Brown, Tommy Stebbins
Page Number: 76
Explanation and Analysis:

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“God created Man in His own image—and Man, being a gentleman, returned the compliment.”

Related Characters: Rachel Brown (speaker), Bertram Cates
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 3, Scene 1 Quotes

Bert, whenever you see something bright, shining, perfect-seeming—all gold, with purple spots—look behind the paint! And if it’s a lie—show it up for what it really is!

Related Characters: Henry Drummond (speaker), Bertram Cates
Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:

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The jury’s decision is unanimous. Bertram Cates is found guilty as charged!

Related Characters: The Judge (speaker), Bertram Cates
Page Number: 113
Explanation and Analysis:

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I feel I am . . . I have been convicted of violating an unjust law. I will continue in the future, as I have in the past, to oppose this law in any way I can.

Related Characters: Bertram Cates (speaker)
Page Number: 115
Explanation and Analysis:

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I’ll tell you Brady had the same right as Cates: the right to be wrong!

Related Characters: Henry Drummond (speaker), Bertram Cates
Page Number: 127
Explanation and Analysis:

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Bertram Cates Character Timeline in Inherit the Wind

The timeline below shows where the character Bertram Cates appears in Inherit the Wind. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Science vs. Religion Theme Icon
David vs. Goliath Theme Icon
Oratory, Performance, and Public Speaking Theme Icon
Morality, Justice, and Truth Theme Icon
Open-Mindedness vs. Closed-Mindedness Theme Icon
...level, asking for a man named Mr. Meeker, the town bailiff. Rachel asks to see Bert Cates, a teacher imprisoned in the court jail, and asks also that Meeker not tell... (full context)
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Cates is happy to see Rachel, but believes she has put herself in a difficult position... (full context)
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Rachel tells Cates that Matthew Harrison Brady, the “second most-powerful man in America, after the President,” is coming... (full context)
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Rachel reminds Cates that there is a law against teaching evolution, and Cates says he knew about that... (full context)
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Meeker remarks to Cates, when the two are alone, that Meeker voted for Brady for President twice (Brady has... (full context)
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Oratory, Performance, and Public Speaking Theme Icon
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A man named Hornbeck, a reporter from the same Baltimore paper to which Cates has written, walks on-stage. Mrs. Krebs asks if he has a “clean” place to stay,... (full context)
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...and says he has come for two reasons: to defend the “Word of God” against Cates’ “attack” on that Word, by the teaching of evolution; and to defend the state’s law... (full context)
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...with whom he is partnered in the prosecution—Brady vows to work with him to punish Cates. A luncheon has been prepared for Mr. and Mrs. Brady, and Mrs. Brady warns Brady... (full context)
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Brady, after eating, asks the crowd whether Cates is a “criminal by nature.” Rachel, who emerges from the sea of townspeople, answers that... (full context)
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A townsperson asks Davenport who the defense attorney representing Cates will be; Davenport confesses he does not yet know, but he thinks this attorney will... (full context)
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Morality, Justice, and Truth Theme Icon
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...conversation he has had with Rachel—Brady implies that Rachel has given him key insight into Cates’ character, but Rachel looks nervous as to the information she has shared with Brady. Brady... (full context)
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...to speak with her. He shows a draft of an article he has written about Cates to Rachel—Rachel seems surprised that Hornbeck is on “Bert’s side” in the trial. Rachel says... (full context)
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But Rachel tells Hornbeck that Cates, as a teacher, is a public servant, and public servants ought to do as the... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
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...The Judge is seated before the court: Brady sits with Davenport and Drummond sits with Cates. Rachel sits nervously in the courtroom, and Hornbeck is perched on a ledge, observing all.... (full context)
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...“runs the feed store.” Sillers had also not heard of Darwin before the brouhaha surrounding Cates. (full context)
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As people file out of the courtroom, Rachel comes up to Drummond and Cates, and tells Drummond that he and Cates should “call the whole thing off” and announce... (full context)
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Drummond asks Cates if he’d really like to quit—Cates admits he had no idea his teaching of evolution... (full context)
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But Drummond counters that he cares about Cates and Cates’ opinions, and that he has taken the case because he feels Cates’ actions... (full context)
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Although Rachel wants Cates to throw in the towel, Cates, after thinking for a moment, agrees with Drummond that... (full context)
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Cates, as he’s being led away by Meeker, implies that the questions he asked in Rachel’s... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
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...will be punished and destroyed by God. Rachel yells to her father not to damn Cates, as he is implying, to Hell, but Brown plows on, asking God to curse Cates... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
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...scene opens in the courtroom, two days later; Brady is examining Howard, a student of Cates’, at the witness stand. Howard testifies that Cates taught, in class, that: millions of years... (full context)
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...one’s right to think is not on trial in the courtroom, but Drummond counters that Cates’ right to think is in fact on trial. Drummond then rephrases, and asks Howard if... (full context)
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...states that Hillsboro in general wishes to impose one theory of truth on a man, Cates, who chooses to think otherwise about the nature of the earth’s creation. (full context)
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...Judge, and Rachel is brought to testify. Brady begins questioning her, asking if she and Cates attend the same church. Rachel responds that Cates has not gone to church for two... (full context)
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Cates, impassioned in the courtroom, yells out that religion is supposed to provide comfort—he is still... (full context)
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Brady then questions Rachel about some of the things Cates said to her, in private, regarding the nature of God and religion. Drummond objects that... (full context)
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Rachel admits that Cates said to her, once, that “God created man in his image—and man, being a gentleman,... (full context)
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Although Drummond wishes to cross-examine Rachel, Rachel is so upset that Cates asks Drummond simply to let her leave the box, which Drummond does. Davenport and the... (full context)
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Drummond has “hit a roadblock,” and though he believes that Cates’ right to teach evolution would be bolstered by a testimony of the scientific basis for... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
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...and Drummond, asking them how they feel about the trial—but both men ignore the reporter. Cates then asks Drummond what will happen to him—how the trial will end. Drummond says that... (full context)
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...time, it split in two—underneath its shiny veneer, the wood was “all rotten.” Drummond tells Cates that it’s always important to reveal lies for what they are—nice stories on the outside,... (full context)
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...ought to let things “simmer” a while and consider making his verdict rather lenient, if Cates is in fact convicted. The Mayor leaves. (full context)
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...verdict is about to be delivered. The jury foreman reports that the jury has found Cates, unanimously, guilty of the charges against him. Hornbeck shouts out that the court, and the... (full context)
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Cates says that he is only a schoolteacher, no good at public speaking, but that he... (full context)
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Cates asks Drummond, after the Brady crisis has calmed in the courtroom, what will happen to... (full context)
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Rachel also arrives and speaks to Cates, saying that she is leaving her father’s house, and wishes to go with Cates wherever... (full context)
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Drummond then says to Cates and to Rachel that he ought to be going, and when Cates says he can... (full context)