Study Guide

Inherit the Wind Principles

By Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee

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Would you be willing to go to jail in order to teach something the law says you shouldn't, if you thought that thing was really important to the education of young minds? If you were a lawyer, would you defend someone who was sure to lose, just because you thought it was the right thing to do? These are tough decisions, but most of the characters in Inherit the Wind choose the high road without batting an eye. They are highly principled people who aren't willing to compromise their beliefs, no matter the consequences. And the consequences aren't always pretty.

Questions About Principles

  1. Which of the characters in the play do you consider highly principled? Which of the characters do you consider more ego-driven than honorable?
  2. Are any of the characters in the play ever required to betray their values? If yes, what is it that they have to do? How do they seem to feel about making these compromises?
  3. Can someone be too principled? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Inherit the Wind shows that there are some conflicts of values that are simply irreconcilable.

In the play, having principles is the most important characteristic a person can have. When everything else goes wrong, at least you can say you lived according to your beliefs.

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