Act Three, Scene I Summary:
The next day, in the courtroom, Drummond and Cates sit at the defense table, waiting for the jury to come back, while Brady sits eating a box lunch, drowning his sorrows with food. Hornbeck tries to provoke the men in turn, saying he'll miss Hillsboro, but all three men ignore him. Cates asks Drummond if he'll be sent to prison and if he'll be able to see anyone there. Drummond says that he might be, but that the story of the court case has become so big that the national exposure might prevent any extreme sentences.
Brady rises from his food and leaves, and Cates observes that Brady seems sure about the verdict. Drummond says that no one knows but that he has a pretty good idea. When Cates asks what they're thinking now, Drummond only says that someday he'll pick himself an easy winner of a case. The law is too much like horse racing. He drifts off into a reverie about Golden Dancer, a rocking horse he wanted when he was seven years old. His father worked nights and mother skimped on the groceries to buy the horse for his birthday, but as soon as he got on it and rocked, the horse split in two. Inside the shining exterior was rotten wood. He urges Cates, when he sees something shiny and perfect-seeming to look behind the paint and if it's a lie, reveal it as one.
The radio man enters with the judge, looking for the best place to put his equipment. He says they are making history, broadcasting a public event for the first time. The mayor enters and tells the judge a wire has arrived from the state capitol. The newspapers are writing a lot about the case, and with November elections coming up, they don't want to rile up the voters. He urges the judge to "go easy." The radio man tests his equipment and explains to Drummond they have a direct wire to WGN in Chicago, on which they'll announce the verdict as soon as the jury comes in. Drummond says that it will break down a lot of walls, but when the radio man warns him against saying "damn" and "hell" on the radio, he observes that it may be a barren source of amusement. Brady asks if he can speak into either side of the microphone, which the radio man attempts to protect from his loud voice. He requests that the radio man signal him if he is not speaking loud enough.
The jury returns and the crowd rushes into the courtroom as Meeker announces that court is reconvening. Cates wants to know if Drummond can read the jurors faces and is visibly disappointed that Rachel is not in the courtroom. The radio man announces the returned jury into the microphone, annoying the judge. The judge asks about the jury's decision, receives the verdict from the foreman, and reads it. Cates is found guilty. The decision is met with a few Amens, some applause, as well as some boos. It is a bitter victory for Brady.
Hornbeck welcomes everyone to the Middle Ages as the judge calls for order and moves to sentencing. Drummond interrupts, reminding him that it is customary for the defendant to make a statement before sentencing. Cates rises, saying he is only a schoolteacher but that he has been convicted of violating an unjust law, which he will continue to oppose in any way he can. He sits. Brady is fretful, without the enormous victory he expected.
The judge announces, that without previous violations of the same statute to guide him, there is no precedent for sentencing. He sentences Cates to a fine of one hundred dollars. An indignant Brady objects, arguing for a more drastic punishment to make an example of Cates. Drummond interrupts to say that Cates has no intention of paying any fine because they are appealing the verdict in the state Supreme Court. He asks for thirty days to prepare the appeal. The judge grants his request and sets bond at five hundred dollars. He begins to adjourn court.
Brady interrupts, saying he has prepared remarks to read into the record. Drummond says that Brady can say anything he wants anywhere else but that court should be adjourned. The judge says that people may stay after to listen to Brady and adjourns the court. Observers stretch and whisper. Melinda calls to Howard, asking who won, and he says he doesn't know but it's over. A hawker sells Eskimo Pies, and the judge calls for quiet for Brady's remarks. People are busy eating, drinking, talking, and buying and don't listen. A few fall silent when the judge calls for quiet again but other people continue to make noise.
Brady calls for attention, and a few more fall silent. He begins to speak of "the hallowed hills of sacred Sinai" and "the law which has been our bulwark and shield" when the radio man asks him to move, finally directing him bodily toward the microphone. Brady is aware this is anticlimactic but won't give up. He continues, saying that in the coutroom, they have seen vindicated before the radio man interrupts, signing off, and announcing a music broadcast coming up. The radio man takes his equipment and leaves, a great affront to Brady, who speaks in a frantic raspy voice, beginning again with the first words of his speech.
Suddenly, Brady freezes. His lips move but no sound comes out, gaining the crowd's attention with his silence. Mrs. Brady cries out. Some sort of eruption seems to occur inside Brady and he falls forward, caught by Meeker and Davenport, who calls for a doctor. The judge calls for room and Mrs. Brady cries Matt. An old woman rushes towards Brady, calling for God to save the "Holy Prophet" and is pushed back by Meeker. Several men lift Brady to carry him to the doctor's office across the street. As they carry him, he speaks in an unreal voice, reciting the Inaugural Address he never had a chance to give. The crowd follows, leaving Drummond, Cates, and Hornbeck alone in the courtroom.
Drummond wonders how it must feel to be Almost-President three times. Hornbeck observes that "Something happens to an Also-Ran" he becomes a "national unloved child." "Show me a shouter," he says, "And I'll show you an also-ran." Cates simply observes that Brady looked terrible as Meeker returns, shaking his head. Hornbeck asserts that he will recover from "vinegar victory" by nightfall. Drummond asks a bewildered Cates what is wrong. He is unsure if he won or lost since the jury found him guilty. Drummond says that he won, that millions of people will read that he smashed a bad law and made it a joke. Cates worries that he has no job and won't be allowed back in the boarding house, but Drummond reminds him that he is helping the next man in a similar situation. A newly proud Cates turns to Meeker who tells him that Hornbeck fixed bail.
Rachel enters, carrying a suitcase, smiling, with a new lift to her head. She tells Cates she is leaving her father. It is partly her fault that the jury convicted him. She brandishes his book, which she has now read, though she doesn't completely understand or like it, though she thinks that is beside the point. She apologizes to Drummond for saying anything that might have offended him. She was always afraid to think before but now knows that thoughts are like children inside you and have to be born, some healthy and some sickly and the sickly thoughts mostly die. Cates smiles in admiration at her.
The judge enters and announces that Brady is dead, then heads to his chambers. Drummond says he can't imagine the world without Matthew Harrison Brady and Cates asked what he died from. Hornbeck says "a busted belly" and continues, saying they shouldn't weep for him, for he cried enough for himself and calling him "a Barnum-bunkum, Bible-beating bastard." An angry Drummond says Hornbeck has no more right to spit on Brady's religion than on his lack of religion. He says there was much greatness in the man. Hornbeck demands to know how you right an obituary for a man who has been dead for thirty years, then realizes he delivered his own obituary, talking to the minister. Hornbeck flips through the Bible, but Drummond knows the words: "He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise in heart."
Hornbeck mocks Drummond, the supposed agnostic. Drummond tells Hornbeck he is tired of him, who never puts a noun and verb together except to blow something up. Hornbeck accuses Drummond of kindness, conscience, and sentimentality. Drummond says that Brady had the same right as Cates, the right to be wrong, adding that a giant once lived in Brady's body but he got lost looking for God too high up. Hornbeck calls Drummond a hyocrite and an atheist who believes in God before rushing off.
Cates asks Drummond if it costs a lot of money for an appeal because he can't pay. Drummond says he didn't come to get paid, and that now he needs to get to the train. Rachel and Cates decide to leave on that train too and rush off to get Cates' things. Alone in the courtroom, Drummond weighs the copy of Darwin left by Rachel and Brady's Bible in his hands, before slapping them side by side into his briefcase. He leaves the courtroom and walks through the empty square.
Act Three, Scene I Analysis:
Ironically, in this battle of ideals and systems of belief between Brady and Drummond, pragmatic forces are responsible for the resolution of the trial. While the jury's unanimous guilty verdict demonstrates the people of Hillsboro to remain ignorant and unthinking, the judge's sentence a mere hundred dollar fine, rather than the years in prison which Cates had been fearing and for which Brady had been hoping is the most significant in the way the world will interpret the trial. The judge does not impart this sentence out of a newfound support of Cates but rather for political reasons. The mayor has warned him about the wire from the state. In the end, the judge is more concerned about reelection worries and state-wide perception of him than he is of upholding the citizens' of Hillsboro opposition to evolution.
In numerous ways, this scene emphasizes Hillsboro's place in a greater community of state, nation, and world. With the exposure of the trial in this small town to a much greater audience through newspaper articles and radio broadcasts, the people of Hillsboro can no longer maintain the limited viewpoint they have tried to uphold by outlawing the teaching of evolution. "When they started this fire here," Drummond says to Cates, "they never figured it would light up the whole sky. A lot of people's shoes are getting hot." In striving to so publicly condemn Cates to, as Brady suggests, make him an example for the world the people of Hillsboro have failed to realized that the whole world does not share their viewpoints.
Drummond observes, "Radio! God, this is going to break down a lot of walls." The image of walls surrounding Hillsboro, blocking its citizens from knowledge of the world around them, suggest that their ignorance is a prison. Furthermore, this image alludes to the Biblical Joshua who in Brady's testimony made the sun stop who made the walls of Jericho fall down by blowing his horn. The radio broadcast of the trial parallels the horn, in that its noise announces the fall of walls that have blocked victory through knowledge.
With this realization of the boundaries that will be broken by the new universalizing force of the radio comes a warning. The radio man warns Drummond not to say "God" or "hell" on the radio. Though Drummond's reaction, saying "This is going to be a barren source of amusement," is comical, it also serves to remind the audience that no matter how broad the medium, some people will seek to impose their views of right and wrong on others and control their speech. Given that the play was written in the 1950s, when Senator Joseph McCarthy was blacklisting playwrights and screenwriters for expressing what were considered Communist viewpoints, the radio man's warning functions as a warning to the audience to always resist censorship, whatever the form.
Another recurring theme in this play that recurs here, in the final scene, is that of the inevitability of progress. Brady is used to projecting his voice to crowds without any amplification. He is an orator whose time, speaking in public squares, has past. There is a new national venue, far greater than the small town, reached by radio. When the radio man moves to protect his microphone from Brady's booming voice, it is clear that this is a technical innovation to which Brady cannot quickly or easily adapt. Drummond said, earlier in the play, that Brady has moved away from him by standing still. By standing still, Brady has moved away not only from Drummond but from the entire country. The radio announcer's need, during Brady's closing remarks, to bodily direct the large Brady toward the microphone, demonstrates the difficulty in getting Brady to adapt to the march of progress.
In direct contrast to Brady is Rachel. She embodies the thinking mind that Drummond has characterized as holy. Her actions, reading and questioning the book that other residents of Hillsboro have condemned without even considering, demonstrate the power of human thought. Her unification with Cates draws on the image of Genesis, in that, as a couple, they embody the Creation of a new, thinking and questioning way of life.
Another contrasting set of characters in this chapter is Drummond and Hornbeck. Hornbeck's cynicism is revealed to be ultimately destructive as Brady's close-minded-ness, in that he is as eager to silence Brady's viewpoints on religion as Brady was to silence Cates' on evolution. Though his observations, about Brady's crying for himself and delivering his own eulogy, are apt, he fails to recognize and appreciate the good aspects of Brady. Brady was a "great man," a powerful man, though a misguided man. Drummond realizes this and realizes the importance than everyone, Brady included, be allowed to express their thoughts and opinions.
In reading this play as the tragedy of Brady, it is possible to discover the root of Brady's fatal flaw in the Inaugural Address he recites when half-conscious. Brady's overriding question for power and recognition have failed, making him a perpetual also-ran. That his last words are a memorized Presidential acceptance speech that he never had the chance to deliver reveal just how much Brady's quest for power has destroyed him. As Hornbeck and Drummond realize, the Biblical quote, from which the title proceeds, does not apply only to Reverend Brown, to whom Brady directed it, but to Brady to. In attacking the very values of free thought and speech upon which the country he professes to love is built, Brady attacks his own house and inherits the wind nothing.