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Inherit the Wind

Jerome Lawrence & Robert E. Lee

Act Two, Scene II

Act Two, Scene I

Act Two, Scene II, page 2

page 1 of 3

Summary

The individual human mind. In a child’s power to master the multiplication table there is more sanctity than in all your shouted “Amens!”, “Holy, Holies!” and “Hosannahs!” An idea is a greater monument than a cathedral. And the advance of man’s knowledge is more of a miracle than any sticks turned to snakes, or the parting of waters!

(See Important Quotations Explained)

Two days later, the trial is in full swing. The scene opens with the young Howard on the witness stand. Howard explains to Brady the scientific theory that Cates taught him in school. Howard says, “Man was sort of evoluted. From the ‘Old World Monkeys.’” Brady mocks this theory and asks whether Cates ever mentioned God in his teachings. Howard says no. Brady begins what seems like a speech, but Drummond objects. Brady claims that he wasn’t about to make a speech but then derides evolutionists at length. The crowd applauds.

Drummond asks Howard what he thinks of Darwin and the theory Cates taught him. Davenport objects, but Drummond says he is trying to establish that Howard has the right to think. The judge and Brady insist that establishing the right to think is not the mission of the trial at hand. Drummond rephrases his question to ask Howard whether the theory of evolution has harmed him in any way. Brady objects, and the judge sustains the objection.

Drummond asks Howard if he believes the theory Cates taught him. Howard says he isn’t sure and has to think about it. Drummond asks Howard whether he thinks modern technologies like tractors and telephones are evil because the Bible doesn’t mention them. Brady protests that Drummond is confusing the witness. He asks Drummond whether “right” has any meaning to him. Drummond delivers a speech, claiming that right is meaningless but that truth is valuable “as a direction.” He says that a morality of simple right and wrong is arbitrary. Drummond asks Howard whether he understands their discussion. Howard says no, and Drummond dismisses him.

Davenport calls Rachel to the stand. Brady asks her about her acquaintance with Cates and about Cates’s religious affiliations. She explains that Cates stopped attending church after a local boy, Tommy Stebbins, drowned in the river while out for a swim. At the funeral, Reverend Brown declared that Tommy wouldn’t be saved because he had never been baptized. Cates interjects that Reverend Brown said the boy’s soul would burn forever. Dunlap shouts from the audience and calls Cates a sinner. The judge pounds his gavel and demands order. Cates continues to shout that religion should help people rather than cause them fear. The judge again calls for order. Drummond requests that Cates’s statements be stricken from the record, and the judge grants the request.

Brady resumes questioning Rachel about Cates’s religious views. Drummond objects on the grounds that hearsay isn’t admissible evidence, but the judge lets the question stand. Referring to their private conversation on the day of Brady’s arrival, Brady asks Rachel to repeat conversations she had with Cates about religious matters. Rachel falters. Brady quotes Cates as saying that man created God and that human marriage was comparable to the breeding of animals. Drummond objects. Rachel, visibly upset, claims that Brady is misquoting a joke Cates made. She goes silent, and Brady dismisses her. At Cates’s request, Drummond also dismisses Rachel.

Davenport states that the prosecution has no further witnesses. Drummond then attempts to call to the stand three scientists. Brady objects to the testimony of experts on evolution, and the judge sustains the objection. Drummond argues that testimony of scientists in this case is no different from testimony of forensics experts in a murder case. Drummond then asks the judge whether he would admit testimony on the Bible. When the judge agrees to allow such testimony, Drummond calls Brady to the stand. Davenport objects. The judge calls Drummond’s request strange, but Brady agrees to take the stand.

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