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The second scene further defines the characters that will stand on either side of the argument in the courtroom. During the scene, it becomes clearer that the main character and protagonist of the play is Mr. Drummond, the lawyer defending Bert Cates. His personality is also more clearly depicted in the scene. He is a dedicated activist who believes in freedom of thought and pursuit of the truth. Like Hornbeck, he speaks in ironies that are sometimes humorous. In fact, Rachel accuses him of being too light-hearted. He defends himself by saying that people have to be able to laugh in order to think straight. Despite his light tone, Drummond feels that the Cates' case has historical importance; he feels it can set a precedent about the censorship of Darwin and his theory of evolution. He says at one point during the choosing of the jury that he wants to "prevent the clock-stoppers from dumping a load of medieval nonsense into the United States Constitution."
During the scene, Drummond comes across as a staid and moral authority in spite of his purple suspenders. In contrast, Mr. Brady comes across as a puffed-up politician who parades himself around the room impressed with his own importance. He is full of platitudes and moral self-righteousness. In spite of his irritating ways, the crowd in the courtroom is clearly supportive of him. When he speaks, he represents the conservative thoughts of the majority of people in Hillsboro. In fact, when the judge calls a recess, the people from the courtroom eagerly crowd around Brady.
Cates vacillates in his emotions during this scene. At first he seems unsure of himself, almost agreeing with Rachel that he should give up the fight. Then when Drummond says it would be a cowardly thing to do, he says he will definitely go forward with the trial; however, when he hears that Rachel will be called to the witness stand, he grows very concerned. He knows that he has revealed to her some of his deepest thoughts, which can be used against him. Cates seems very dejected when he is led out of the courtroom.
The judge in the case is introduced for the first time. Although he does sustain some of Drummond's objections, he clearly ignores others. It becomes obvious that his leanings are on the side of the fundamental Brady. When he calls a recess in his courtroom, he publicly announces to the audience that a prayer meeting will be held on the courthouse lawn during the recess. The audience and the reader begin to wonder how Cates can possibly receive a fair trial in this prejudiced environment.