From the start, Sybil—the matriarch of the Birling family—maintains a chilly and aloof attitude toward the proceedings, as evidenced most notably by her refusal to help the pregnant Eva. That someone as uncharitable as Sybil might be in charge of a charitable investigation is presented as cruelly ironic, as is the fact that Sybil unwittingly denied aid to her own grandchild. When confronted about her lack of generosity, Sybil denies responsibility and insists her behavior was correct; Eva, in her eyes, was unworthy of help.

But Sybil wasn’t merely uninterested in helping Eva. She’s also uninterested in, or in denial of, the investigation as a whole. She offers a defensive and occasionally combative attitude towards Goole and an unwillingness to cooperate throughout. Her issues with the Inspector have less to do with the information he conveys, and more to do with her belief that it’s inappropriate for a stranger to make such baseless claims. Her chief concern is with reputation; she writes off references to Eric’s drinking habits, for instance, and though she’s upset to learn of Gerald’s affair, she’s more worried about the prospect of the affair becoming public and causing a scandal. She calls the Inspector “impertinent” for having the gall to ask questions. She can’t conceive of someone of her social station being met with such scorn, enabling her to act, in her view, as if she is the victim. Goole demonstrates that Sybil herself has violated social conventions by denying help to Eva, and has even violated the Birling family’s own personal maxim—that they should only help themselves and their families—once it's revealed Eva’s child was also Eric’s. Despite the trap the Inspector has laid, all but forcing Sybil to condemn her own son and herself, she ultimately refuses to take accountability.