8 makes a case for the boy's potential innocence, saying, "This boy has been hit so many times in his life that violence is practically...it's a normal state of affairs with him. I just can't see two slaps in the face provoking him into committing murder."
The other jurors still believe that the boy did it. 7 stands and says that the boy is "5 for 0" and that his record—children's court at 10 for throwing a rock at a teacher, reform school at 15 for stealing a car, and arrests for mugging and knife fighting—speaks for itself. 8 is still convinced that this has to do with his abusive father, but that it doesn't point to murder.
Then 3 stands and says that he used to call his father "sir," but children aren't respectful anymore. He asks 8 if he has any kids and 8 says he has three kids. 3 says he has a 22-year-old son, and pulls out a picture. He then tells a story about seeing his son run away from a fight and the fact that it embarrassed him and made him want to "make a man" out of his son. "When he was 16, we had a fight," he says. "Hit me in the jaw. He was a big kid. I haven't seen him for 2 years."
4 speaks up and suggests that "slums are breeding grounds for criminals," and they ought to take seriously his background when deliberating whether he committed the crime. 10 agrees, and says, "The kids who crawl out of these places are real trash," which prompts 5, who has been silent until now, to speak up. "I've lived in a slum all my life," 5 reveals, as the other jurors urge him to not be so sensitive.
10 demands to hear 8's perspective, and when the foreman suggests they stick to the plan—that everyone convince 8 of their perspective—he calls the foreman a "kid," dismissively. 1 gets into an argument with 10, suggesting that he take control if he knows what is best.
8 states what he believes. "I sat there in court for 6 days listening while the evidence built up. Everybody sounded so positive, I began to get a peculiar feeling about this trial. I mean, nothing is that positive...I began to get the idea that the defense council wasn't conducting a thorough enough cross-examination. He let too many things go by. Little things," he says.
He continues, "Look, there was one alleged eyewitness to this killing. Someone else claims he heard the killing, saw the boy run out afterwards, and there was a lot of circumstantial evidence. But actually those two witnesses were the entire case for the prosecution. Supposing they're wrong?"
3 asks about the murder weapon, the knife that the defendant admitted to buying the night of the killing. 8 requests to see the knife again, and the foreman goes to fetch it. 4 reviews the facts: that the boy admitted leaving the house at 8 on the night of the murder after his father punched him, that he went to a junk shop to buy a very special switch knife, that he met his friends in front of a tavern at 8:45 and they saw the knife, that the weapon used in the murder is the same knife, that he returned home at 10, that he claims that he went to a movie at 11:30 and returned home at 3:10 to find his father dead. At this point, 8 interjects to say that the defendant claims that the detectives who arrested him threw him down a half a flight of stairs.
"I think it's clear that the boy never went to the movies that night. No one in the house saw him go out at 11:30. No one at the theater could identify him. He couldn't even remember the names of the pictures he saw," says 4. Someone brings the knife in and 4 asks 8 if he really thinks that someone else used it to kill the boy's father. "I'm just saying it's possible!" argues 8, as 4 points out how unusual the knife is, sticking it into the table around which they are sitting.
Suddenly, 8 pulls out an identical knife and sticks it in the table next to the murder weapon. The men erupt in questions, and 8 tells them that the previous night, he went walking in the boy's neighborhood, and was able to buy the same knife from a pawn shop 2 blocks from the boy's house for $6. 4 tells 8 that it's against the law to buy switch knives, and 8 defiantly says, "That's right. I broke the law."
While many of the jurors think that the identical knife doesn't prove anything, 2 thinks the knife is certainly interesting. 10 stands and complains that they are talking and talking, when there was a witness to the murder. "I got three garages of mine going to pot while you're talking," he says.
8 makes a request of the other jurors that they vote with secret written ballots and that he will sit it out. He says, "If there are 11 votes for guilty, I won't stand alone, we'll take in a guilty verdict to the judge right now. But if anyone votes not guilty, we stay here and talk it out."
The men vote. While most of the men have voted guilty, one of them has voted "Not Guilty." 10 demands to know who voted that way, as 11 suggests that they all agreed to do a secret ballot. 3 suspects that it was 5, the man who grew up in a slum, berating him. 5 stands and resists, and when someone refers to 3 as "excitable," he bellows, "You bet I'm excitable! We're trying to put a guilty man in the chair, where he belongs!"
Suddenly, 9 reveals that he was the one to change his vote. He stands and says that he respects 8's motives to really understand the case thoroughly before making a decision. As 7 leaves the room, 9 scolds him for leaving and 8 reassures him, "He can't hear you, he never will."
12 begins telling 11 about working in advertising and asks him what he does for work. "I'm a watchmaker," says 11, and 12 says he suspects some of the finest watches in the world come from Europe. Meanwhile, 3 apologizes to 5 about being so rash earlier. 8 goes into the men's room to talk to 7, who is inside, combing his hair.
"Are you a salesman?" 7 asks, and 8 tells him he's an architect. "You know what the soft sell is?" 7 says, explaining that he thinks 8 is employing soft selling (subtle persuasion) to get his point across. "I made 27 grand last year selling marmalade," 7 says. He calls 8 a do-gooder, and asks 8 to stop wasting everyone's time.
The jurors' difference of opinion about the case doesn't have to do only with their perception of the events, but also with their respective perceptions of class, violence, and masculinity. While many see the defendant's violent record as evidence of his capacity for murder, Juror 8 holds firm that growing up in an abusive household in a slum can make a child violent, but does not necessarily prove anything about a murder. His perception of the defendant takes into consideration the defendant's background, but does not make any unnecessary assumptions.
Juror 3 is set in his view that the boy is guilty, and reveals his own relationship to fatherhood and violence in a tangent. He tells the story of the fact that he and his son got in a fight when his son was 16 and that he hasn't spoken to him in 2 years. He tells the story regretfully, suggesting that he has his doubts about the ways he taught his son to "be a man." In this moment, the viewer sees that each of the jurors has their own specific relationship to the case that stems from their own associations.
It turns out that these personal associations have more weight on the jurors' perceptions than first meets the eye. When the men begin making broad statements about the fact that slums necessarily create criminals, a juror speaks up and announces that he himself was raised in a slum. The other jurors demand that he not be so sensitive, but certain jurors can understand his alarm. In this, we see that personal associations, prejudices, and backgrounds have a strong bearing on the jurors' perceptions and assumptions, and that nothing is as simple as it once appeared.
While the cast of characters is made up of a room of anonymous jurors, all white men of a certain age, director Sidney Lumet takes moments to zero in on each of them and carve out their specific identities. At certain moments, the camera follows individual actors and zooms in on their faces, particularly in moments when they are having an emotional moment or perhaps a crisis of faith. This has the effect of aligning the viewer with each of the men's individual perspectives, further showing the ways that each of their personal identities is affecting how they view the case.
In this section, 8 manages to convince another juror to see things from his perspective. Juror 9, an older man with a sweet temperament, agrees with 8 that the case is entitled to a closer investigation, and that the desire to really understand the facts is a noble motive. This only causes more conflict among the men, but it brings 8 closer to getting people to look at the case with greater care and attention.