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Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors
used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.
Golden Dancer, a rocking horse Drummond received
from his parents as a child, represents the deceptiveness of external beauty.
Despite its bright shine and color, the horse broke the first time
Drummond rode it. Drummond uses this symbol to convey to Cates the
importance of the search for truth and the exposure of people and
ideas for what they truly are. As Drummond instructs Cates, “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!” Cates, whose classroom microscope
reveals physical realities that the naked eye cannot see, is already
familiar with this principle. Drummond’s words, however, help Cates
to realize that his defeat in court may actually be a victory for
When the radio man enters the courtroom to record the
trial, the recording marks the first time a trial is broadcast nationally
in the United States. In fact, the Scopes trial,
the inspiration for Inherit the Wind, marked that
occasion in real life. The radio symbolizes the rapid technological
advancement of early twentieth-century America and the consequences
of that technology for traditional rural life. The radio also recalls
the modern technological devices that Drummond challenges Brady
and his witnesses to conceive of in biblical terms—a key element
of his argument that ultimately wins over the courtroom audience.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Inherit the Wind!