Study Guide

Inherit the Wind Defeat

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For every winner there's some sad, sorry loser in town. And no number of second-place trophies can cure that sting of defeat, right? Well, in Inherit the Wind, even the winners lose. And the losers feel like they've won. See, Bert's court case ends in an anticlimactic victory for the prosecution; he is pronounced guilty, but his sentence is so light that everyone thinks it's just a slap on the wrist. As a result, the defense parades around like they've won, with Drummond talking about how Bert won't pay his fine and they'll appeal this decision to a higher court and blah blah blah. Brady is so upset that he's lost his chance to make a strong example of Bert that he keels over in defeat. Literally. So this play just goes to show that one can find a win hidden in every defeat. And in every win, a loss.

Questions About Defeat

  1. How do Bert and Brady deal with their defeats in the play? What do these coping strategies reveal about their characters?
  2. What do you think the play's message is when it comes to defeat? Is it positive or negative? How complex a picture do the playwrights paint of what it means to win or lose?
  3. Are there any real losers or real winners in the play? Explain.

Chew on This

Inherit the Wind is about finding victory, even in defeat.

Inherit the Wind is about the defeat of tradition by modernity, by progress.

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