Finally, Inherit the Wind contains a detailed discussion of what it means to open- or closed-minded in a complex, modern society. Drummond is the primary vehicle for this discussion, as he conceives of the trial’s fundamental question as, essentially, a philosophical one: Drummond believes he is fighting for the right of private citizens to think whatever they want, and to share their thought-processes with others. Cates, for his part, questioned the balance of evolution and creationism, and urged his students not to reject religion but, rather, to examine both thought-systems critically. It is this process of questioning that Drummond champions.
In this way, Reverend Brown becomes a “villain” in the play because he is closed-minded: he will not allow that scientists can believe in God, and damns all who don’t believe in creationism to hell. Hornbeck at first seems a more sympathetic figure, with his support for Cates and mockery of the closed-mindedness of the town. But by the end of the play Drummond has rejected Hornbeck’s viewpoint as also being closed-minded—Hornbeck refuses to acknowledge that religious people can be intelligent. Both Brown and Hornbeck’s closed-mindedness causes them to behave cruelly to others—to ignore other possible viewpoints, and to argue, instead, for a kind of cynical violence against those who disagree with them. In contrast, Drummond and Cates are open-minded because they are willing to question the dogmas of religion and the dogmas of secularism. And Rachel, who finally realizes how important it is to think for herself, leaves her closed-minded father and begins a new life with Cates—a life unfettered by narrow viewpoints. Even Brady, a man of strong religious feeling, stops short of arguing, as Brown does, that non-believers ought to be sent to hell, castigated as sinners forever.
Thus Drummond’s final “weighing” of Darwin’s writings and the Bible has a clear symbolic meaning. Drummond believes, firmly, that one should not have to decide between two apparently restrictive viewpoints. Rather, Drummond takes both books with him, showing that he is open to a thought-system that includes elements of belief and fact—a mixture of ideas from many different places, representative of the broad, multifaceted nature of American life and culture itself. This openness toward all aspects of society becomes a central message of the play.
Open-Mindedness vs. Closed-Mindedness ThemeTracker
Open-Mindedness vs. Closed-Mindedness Quotes in Inherit the Wind
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?
The Good Lord guv us the heat, and the Good Lord guv us the glands to sweat with.
The unplumbed and plumbing-less depths! Ah, Hillsboro—Heavenly Hillsboro. The buckle on the Bible Belt.
I understand your loyalty, my child. This man, the man in your jailhouse, is a fellow schoolteacher. Likeable, no doubt. And you are loath to speak out against him before all these people. Think of me as a friend, Rachel. And tell me what troubles you.
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 think he should do what the law and the school-board want him to.
Does Mr. Drummond refuse this man [Dunlap] a place on the jury simply because he believes in the Bible?
If you find an Evolutionist in this town, you can refuse him.
Well, I’m pretty busy down at the feed store. My wife tends to the religion for both of us.
In other words, you take care of this life, and your wife takes care of the next one?
I’ve seen what you can do to a jury. Twist and tangle them. Nobody’s forgotten the Endicott Publishing case—where you made the jury believe the obscenity was in their own minds, not on the printed page.
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.”
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!
Did you hear that, my friends? “Old World Monkeys”! According to Mr. Cates, you and I aren’t even descended from good American monkeys!
Let’s put it this way, Howard. All this fuss and feathers about Evolution, do you think it hurt you any?
Did it do you any harm? You still feel reasonably fit? Did it hurt your baseball game any? Affect your pitching arm?
No, sir. I’m a leftie.
One of the peculiar imbecilities of our time is the grid of morality we have placed on human behavior: so that every act of man must be measured against an arbitrary latitude of right and longitude of wrong . . . .
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!
“God created Man in His own image—and Man, being a gentleman, returned the compliment.”
In this community, Colonel Drummond . . . the language of the law is clear; we do not need experts to question the validity of a law that is already on the books.
In other words, the court rules out any expert testimony on Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species or Descent of Man?
The court so rules.
Now tell me. Do you feel that every word that’s written in this book should be taken literally?
Everything in the Bible should be accepted, exactly as it is given there.
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!
The jury’s decision is unanimous. Bertram Cates is found guilty as charged!
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.
He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise in heart.
We’re growing an odd crop of agnostics this year!
I’ll tell you Brady had the same right as Cates: the right to be wrong!
You see, I haven’t really thought very much. I was always afraid of what I might think—so it seemed safer not to think at all. But now I know. A thought is like a child inside our body. It has to be born. If it dies inside you, part of you dies, too!