Study Guide

Inherit the Wind Act 1, Scene 1

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Act 1, Scene 1

  • Who cares if we're descended from monkeys or not? Let's talk about worms.
  • Howard and Melinda, a couple of kids, wonder about whether they used to be worms, in a sort of warped version of evolution.
  • This kind of thing happened a lot, back when evolution was a newer notion.
  • Rachel shows up at the courthouse, looking for Bert.
  • Mr. Meeker, the bailiff, promises not to tell Rachel's dad that she came to the jail.
  • Her dad definitely wouldn't be happy, since he's the town preacher, and Bert's the kind of potential boyfriend parents worry about.
  • Rachel tries to talk Bert into apologizing. She wants him to say that his teaching evolution in school was just a joke, but he won't listen.
  • Rachel's father, the Reverend Jeremiah Brown, oversees the preparations for the arrival of the prosecution lawyer, Matthew Brady.
  • Seeing their golden opportunity for a quick buck, people start setting up lemonade and hot dog stands.
  • So there's plenty of picnic food to go around. Yum.
  • A religious hermit shows up hollering about the end of the world, and a journalist from Baltimore, Hornbeck, argues with him playfully over whether or not evolution is real.
  • Hornbeck's dialogue is sassy.
  • The townspeople sing hymns to welcome Brady to town, and he gives a very charismatic speech. He also shows off his eating abilities, and downs everything the Ladies' Aid group has prepared… to his wife's distress.
  • Brady talks to Rachel about her relationship with Bert. She's a teacher, too, and has a hard time because she wants to defend Bert, but also respects Brady.
  • She's caught between a rock and a monkey, you might say.
  • Then Hornbeck lets everyone know that Henry Drummond will be the defense attorney, and everyone flips out.
  • He's famous for defending the indefensible and for being a (gasp) agnostic.
  • The Reverend calls Drummond a devil, but Brady is excited and says, bring it on.
  • He keeps on eating, preparing for the showdown. Guess he thinks the big trial will take a lot (of calories) out of him, eh?
  • Hornbeck talks to Rachel and kind of makes her look dumb because she blindly follows the law and religion. He admires Bert for being a renegade, of course.
  • We think this is kind of unfair because Rachel is trying to be reasonable in all of this.
  • Finally, Drummond shows up, and Melinda screams and runs away, thinking he's the devil. Hornbeck welcomes him to "hell". Haha.

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