Inherit the Wind | Study Guide

Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee

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Inherit the Wind | Act Summaries

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Timeline of Events

  • 1920s

    Bertram Cates is arrested for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution.

    Act 1, Scene 1
  • A day in July

    Matthew Harrison Brady and Henry Drummond arrive in Hillsboro to argue the case.

    Act 1, Scene 1
  • A few days later

    Brady and Drummond spar with each other over jury selection.

    Act 1, Scene 2
  • Shortly afterward

    Rachel Brown tries to convince Cates to admit he was wrong so the case will be dropped. He refuses.

    Act 1, Scene 2
  • That night

    At a prayer meeting, Reverend Brown curses Cates and turns on his daughter.

    Act 2, Scene 1
  • Two days later

    The trial is underway, and 13-year-old Howard is called to the stand.

    Act 2, Scene 2
  • Later the same day

    Rachel Brown breaks down under questioning by Brady.

    Act 2, Scene 2
  • Immediately afterward

    Brady successfully gets the judge to rule against all of Drummond's expert witnesses.

    Act 2, Scene 2
  • Shortly afterward

    Drummond calls Brady to the stand as an expert on the Bible.

    Act 2, Scene 2
  • Minutes later

    Drummond traps Brady into showing that the Bible is open to interpretation, making him look silly.

    Act 2, Scene 2
  • Moments later

    The crowd begins rejecting Brady, who crumbles in humiliation.

    Act 2, Scene 2
  • The next morning

    The mayor warns the judge that the "boys over at the state capitol" want a light sentence.

    Act 3
  • Shortly afterward

    The jury returns a guilty verdict, but the judge imposes only the minimum $100 fine.

    Act 3
  • Simultaneously

    Participants and spectators realize that Cates has been vindicated.

    Act 3
  • Moments later

    The townspeople flock to Drummond as Brady desperately attempts to give a speech.

    Act 3
  • Moments later

    Brady collapses and is rushed to a doctor.

    Act 3
  • Shortly afterward

    Rachel Brown arrives and announces she has decided to leave her father's home.

    Act 3
  • Later

    Brady is pronounced dead and Drummond eulogizes him, to E.K. Hornbeck's disgust.

    Act 3
  • Shortly afterward

    Rachel Brown and Bertram Cates joyfully decide to leave town together.

    Act 3
  • End of trial

    Drummond leaves the courtroom after putting the Bible and Darwin side by side in his briefcase.

    Act 3

Act Summaries Chart

Act Summary
Act 1, Scene 1 It is just after dawn on a hot July day in Hillsboro, "a sleepy, obscure country town about to be vigorously awakened." ... Read More
Act 1, Scene 2 This scene opens as Matthew Harrison Brady and Henry Drummond attempt to fill the last two open slots on the jury. The c... Read More
Act 2, Scene 1 The scene begins just prior to Reverend Jeremiah Brown's prayer meeting, which is being held on the courthouse lawn. Two... Read More
Act 2, Scene 2 The story continues two days later, and the trial is well underway. It is midday, the courtroom is packed, and the weath... Read More
Act 3 The play continues the next morning, as the prosecution and defense wait for the return of the jury. The courtroom is ne... Read More
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