The Courage To Stand Alone
The Courage to Stand Alone
In the 1950’s, Reginald Rose penned his masterpiece, 12 Angry Men. This play introduces us to twelve men of various statures. All of these men are part of the jury who will decide the fate of a young man, who has been accused of murdering his father. At first glance of the testimonies of the witnesses in the trial, the reader, or audience, would probably agree with the norm of the jury on the guilt of the young man. If it weren’t for one character in this play, juror No. 8, the deliberations of this trial would have been non-existent. At the end of this story, another juror, No. 3, states his nearly impenetrable opinion, nearly causing a hung jury. After reading or watching this play, the audience has some insight into the fact that despite how unfavourable a persons opinion may be, it is the courage to hold ones ground - sometimes with no other support but from him/herself - that must be recognized as a virtue.
This story starts off in the courtroom with the jurors making their way to the deliberation room to talk about and vote on the fate of the accused. A vote is cast to see where they stand with one another on their opinions. The men have various reasons for voting the ways they do. Take, for example, who No. 7 says, “This better be fast. I’ve got tickets to The Seven Year Itch tonight” , or No. 2 who is “a meek, hesitant man who finds it difficult to maintain any opinions of his own. Easily swayed and usually adopts the opinion of the last person to whom he has spoken”, and No. 3 whose son won’t talk to him anymore because of his father’s bitterness against young people. Some of the other men on the jury believe that “you can’t believe a word [people from the slums] say”, and since the boy is from the slums, they don’t believe his testimony. It is only juror No. 8 who came into the jurors room with a non-bias attitude and who left his personal baggage at the door. He believes that “maybe we owe him a few words”, but the others believe that they “don’t owe him a thing”.
The evidence against the accused convinces all the jurors of the boys guilt, except for juror No. 8. The evidence that has convinced the rest of the jurors soon gets analyzed by juror No. 8, which causes the others think twice about their verdict. The reason why juror No. 8 went into such detail about all of the evidence is because “[He] had a peculiar feeling about this trial. Somehow [he] felt that the defense never really conducted a thorough cross-examination. [He] mean[s], [the defense lawyer] was appointed by the court to defend the boy. He hardly seemed interested. Too many questions were left unasked.” There were three pieces of evidence that the prosecution brought up, which each on its own, could have probably convinced a jury of the boy’s guilt: the obscure knife, and the two witnesses: the old man , the neighbour downstairs, and the woman, the neighbour from across the street. All of these key pieces of evidence were looked over in the jurors room. Nobody but juror No. 8 saw the flaws with each.
Take, for example, the rare switch-knife - which we find out to be not-so-rare - that the boy had bought from a local corner store. “The storekeeper identified it and said it was the only one of its kind he had in stock.” This testimony had convinced eleven of the jurors until juror No. 8 “swiftly flicks open the blade of a switch-knife and jams it into the table next to the first one (knife). They are exactly alike.” After this incident, another juror sided with juror No. 8.
Next, the old man’s and the woman from across the street’s testimonies gets put to their tests. Like juror No. 3 said, “[T]he old man heard the kill yell, ‘I’m gonna kill you.’ A second later he heard the father’s body falling, and he saw the boy running out of the house