Inherit the Wind
Written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
USS180.jpg picture by Rasmoose23
USS180.jpg picture by Rasmoose23

Summary: In the book Inherit the Wind, the authors Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee recreate the Scopes Monkey Trial in the small make-believe town of Hillsboro, Tennessee where a young school teacher, Bertram Cates, commits the crime of reading Darwin's Origin of Species to his sophomore science class. Matthew Harris Brady, a three time presidential candidate, is the prosecuting attorney, along with the help of the circuit district attorney Tom Davenport; the defense attorney for the case is Henry Drummond, who is commonly referred to as the Devil by the Reverend Jeremiah Brown and the townspeople of Hillsboro. E. K. Hornbeck, the greatest reporter of the era, comes from the Baltimore Herald and brings along with him a cynical and sarcastic twist to the plot of the play. While the trial is going on, Bert Cates has his eyes set on the reverend's daughter, Rachel Brown. The small town of Hillsboro receives major publicity from the trial, because the right to think has been put on trial. Henry Drummond calls Matthew Harrison Brady to the stand, when he then earns the respect of some of the townspeople through Brady's downfall. On the last day of the trial, Bert Cates is found guilty and must pay a fine of one-hundred dollars. On the same day, Matthew Harrison Brady passes away, and Rachel and Bert leave the small town of Hillsboro forever. Henry Drummond finds Brady's Bible and a copy of Darwin's Origin of Species . He puts them side-by-side in his briefcase and the curtain falls on the stage.

Description of Major Characters:

Matthew Harrison Brady - He is the forever faithful man who is greeted in Hillsboro with great celebration. He is a three time presidential candidate and most recently is the prosecuting attorney for the trial.

E. K. Hornbeck - He is the cynical reporter for the Baltimore Harold who is reporting the entire trial from Hillsboro. His has a very sarcastic personality, and is not highly favored in the town of Hillsboro.

Henry Drummond - He is the defense attorney for Bertram Cates for the duration of the trial. He is an evolutionist; when he first arrives in Hillsboro, he is compared to the Devil himself by Reverend Jeremiah Brown and many of the townspeople as well.

Bertram Cates - He is a twenty-four year old teacher who teaches biology; he gets arrested for reading Darwin's Origin of Species to his sophomore class. He is in lover with Reverend Jeremiah Brown's only daughter, Rachel Brown.

Reverend Jeremiah Brown - He is the father of Rachel Brown. He is also the town's reverend at church, and has a strong dislike for Bertram Cates and Henry Drummond.

Rachel Brown - She is the daughter of Reverend Brown. She is also the girl who has a relationship with Bertram Cates throughout the entire trial. She endures an important change of character in the play.

Likes: I enjoyed the change of character that Rachel Brown endures during the play. I also like how the setting to the play is in a small town, not too long ago because it shows that the book is not an exact recreation of the Scopes Monkey Trial. What I liked most about the book was the lesson that it taught, and that was tolerance. I learned a valuable lesson from this book.

Dislikes: I do not like how cynical E.K. Hornbeck is; I feel like the authors went a little over-board in that regard. I also do not like how evolution and creation are being put on trial, because I think they are a belief and theory that do not belong together.

What can we learn from this book?
What we can learn from this book is the lesson of tolerance. You do not have to believe in something just because your friends do, but you can still say that there are other beliefs out there besides what you yourself believe in. When Henry Drummond puts the Bible and Darwin's Origin of Species side-by-side in his briefcase, it shows that he tolerates both beliefs, even though he may not believe in creation. Also, whey Rachel reads Darwin's Origin of Species , it shows that she is willing to learn about what beliefs Bert Cates believes in.

Answers to Essential Questions:

  • How do we handle our individual differences?
    • I think we handle our individual differences with strength, because you should be proud of your individual differences; those differences are what make you stand out in a crowd, and those differences are the things that make up who you are. Everyone has something different about them, and you have to find that difference in yourself and learn to live with it, head on.
  • Does tolerance equal acceptance?
    • No, tolerance does not equal acceptance. I feel that tolecance does not equal acceptance because they have two different meanings. To tolerate something is, for example, that their are other beliefs out there; other beliefs than the beliefs that you believe in. But to accept something is, using the same example, to believe those other beliefs that are out there, instead of just saying that yes, the do exist. If you truly accept something, the I think you do believe in it.
  • Can we tolerate someone/something without agreeing with them/it?
    • Yes, we can tolerate someone or something without agreeing with them/it. If a friend of mine believes in a different religion than I do, I can be tolerant by saying yes there are other beliefs besides my own, but I do not have to accept their beliefs and believe in them as well. And also, we are all entitled to our own opinions, no matter if someone agrees with you or not.

Characterization Essay:

Characterization in Inherit the Wind
“He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind” (Proverbs 11:29). The novel Inherit the Wind is based on the Scopes Monkey Trial that occurred in Dayton, Tennessee during the scorching July of 1925. The authors Jerome Lawrence and Robert Lee recreate this trial in the small make-believe town of Hillsboro. A school teacher gets put in jail for reading Darwin’s Origins of Species to his sophomore class. During the play, his crime is not the only thing that is on trial; so is the right to think. The duration of the trial consists of beliefs of creation and evolution being exchanged, which results in the changing of some of the characters personalities. The changing nature of Rachel Brown reveals the theme that things are not always what they appear to be.
Throughout the play, Rachel Brown and Bertram Cates share a bond that is something more than just friendship. At the beginning of the play, Rachel goes to the town’s courthouse to visit Bert. “I stopped by your place and picked up some of your things. A clean shirt, your best tie, some handkerchiefs” (7). Rachel in this case was being helpful, but this was not the true reason she had come to see Bert; she had an important question to ask him. “Why can’t you admit you’re wrong?” (8) At this point in the play, Rachel – the Reverend’s daughter – cannot come to terms with the fact that Bert did read Darwin’s Origin of Species to his class on purpose. Her father Reverend Brown had taught her by the Bible and that the world was created in seven days by God. Because she doesn’t have a solid understanding of Darwin’s Origin of Species and only believes in creation, she has a hard time understanding why Bert would read about evolution in the first place. In contrast to the beginning of the play, the character of Rachel Brown matures into an independent adult. Her relationship with Bert takes flight at the end of the play. “I’ve read it. All the way through. I don’t understand it. What I don’t understand. I don’t like. I don’t want to think that men come from apes and monkeys. But I think that’s beside the point” (124). Since Rachel read through Darwin’s theory, it shows Bert that she is willing enough to try and understand what he believes in, even if his beliefs do not match with what she believes. As a result of Rachel’s new outlook on life, she and Bert leave the small town of Hillsboro to start a new life together.
From the beginning to the end of the play, Rachel’s outlook on the trial drastically changes. Initially, Rachel is confused at the beginning of the trial because she does not understand the theory of evolution. As mentioned before, she was raised by what the Bible says, and has no intentions of changing her beliefs. But because of what she does believe in, and how timid she feels about everything, she repeatedly asks Bert to plead guilty and tell the jury that he knew reading Darwin’s theory was wrong. Throughout the first half of the trial and up through she takes the stand, Rachel just wishes it would end; she does not want to have anything to do with it. However, after Matthew Harrison Brady had asked her very deep questions about her and Bert, she seemed to have a different state of mind about the trial. Once she enters the courthouse on the last day of the trial, Bert can tell that there is something different about her; a happy and carefree vibe about her. During Rachel and Bert’s conversation in the courtroom, she admits why she had been so scared. “I was always afraid of what I might think – so it seemed safer not to think at all” (124). Now that Rachel had a new mind set, she could look back on her actions during the trial, see what she wrong. “You see, I haven’t really thought very much…But now I know” (124). As a result of her new state of mind, Rachel learns to tolerate the trial, and can accept why it had happened.
Rachel Brown endures a change of heart throughout the duration of the play. To start out with, Rachel was not a brave or independent character in the beginning of play. She was however, a caring, but shy and timid girl who was afraid of what people would think of her actions. Rachel appeared to be dependent, meaning that she never stood up for what she believed in; if she did voice her opinion, it would be with a group of people who shared the same beliefs as she did. She was also very nervous and frightened during the continuation of the trial. Rachel did not know what would happen to Bert or what the outcome of the trial would be, and she endured great worry because of it. “Mr. Meeker, don’t let my father know I came here” (5). This statement from Rachel proves that she was worried about what people would think about what she did. Nevertheless, she did not stay a shy and scared girl for the entire play. Slowly but surely Rachel finds the courage inside herself and gains her independence. “I’m not sure. But I’m leaving my father” (124). Now it is clear that Rachel has fully gained her independence; she is thinking her own thoughts and is making her own decisions. From a character that showed no bravery or happiness ended up a courageous girl full of high spirits.
In conclusion, the character of Rachel Brown reveals the theme of the play that things are not always what they appear to be. She proves that you can feel a certain way about someone, but not know how to show it. Rachel also proves to us that things, like the trial, can be frightening at first, but can turn out okay in the end. But most importantly, she shows us that there is true courage inside of us; even though it can be difficult to find, you know it’s there once you find it. Inherit the Wind is similar to Henry Drummond’s story of the Golden Dance. Something can be beautiful on the outside, but you have to look under all of that glitter and glitz to discover what really lies underneath; because things are not always what they appear to be.

Reflections on Essay:

  • What did I learn from this writing assignment?
    • From this writing assignment, I learned that there is a great difference between tolerating and accepting someone's beliefs. If you tolerate someone's beliefs, you are agreeing that there are other beliefs out there besides your own, but you do not have to believe in them; for accepting someone's beliefs, you are agreeing with what they believe in, and are accepting their beliefs as your own. This writing assignment also taught me that the outcome of major events can change the way you feel about them. For example, Rachel disagreed with Bert's trial, but in the end, was tolerant of it.
  • Whad did I do well in this unit?
    • In this unit, I imporved my understanding of theme of the book. At first, I did not comprehend the theme of Inherit the Wind, but now I understand it - things are not always what the appear to be. I also improve the use of intext citations. Before this unit, I did not know how to incorporate them into my essays, and now I do.
  • What areas could I improve on?
    • One major thing I could improve on is incorporating intext citations in my writing more easily, and work on transitioning into them better. Another area I could improve on is proof reading. I felt like I could have reworded certain sentences better so they flowed more easily.