It's fair to say that there's a bit of duty involved in deciding whether or not to send an 18-year-old kid to the electric chair. And most of the 12 Angry Men seem to take this duty seriously. (We can't say this about Juror #7, though, who wants to vote for whatever verdict is most likely to get him out of the jury room early enough that he can make it to a baseball game in time.)
It's hard to have a moral argument with someone who simply doesn't care about whether a person lives or dies, but luckily, other men in the room do feel a sense of duty and are able to help the jury come to a just decision, with or without people like #7. We've said it before, and we'll say it again—this is why you have twelve jurors instead of one.
Questions About Duty
- Which character has the strongest sense of duty, and why?
- Which character is the first to join Juror #8 in the "Not Guilty" verdict? Why?
- Who gives Juror #7 a big speech about duty after he reveals his motives for wanting to make as quick a verdict as possible? How does #7 respond to the speech?
Chew on This
In 12 Angry Men, we see that if you give it enough time, duty will triumph over prejudice. That's why it's important not to make hasty decisions.
12 Angry Men reminds us that even though we like to talk about duty, a lot of major decisions get made for the pettiest possible reasons.