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The plot of Inherit the Wind is quite simple, following the classical pattern of development. In the first act, the major characters are introduced and the conflict is established. The rising action begins when the town throws all of its support around Brady and against Cates and Drummond, his attorney, and leads to the climax that occurs in the courtroom at the end of the trial when Drummond absolutely defeats Brady. The falling action is brief, with little happening after the trial is concluded.
The plot is really a battle of good (freedom of thought) vs. evil (censorship). The plot revolves around two underdogs, Cates and Drummond. Cates, a quiet schoolteacher, speaks the truth as he sees it, even when it is against the law. As a result, he is abandoned by all his friends and associates and treated cruelly. Drummond, the second underdog, comes to the aid of Cates. He agrees to be the defense attorney in the case of the state against Cates. Brady, his opposing attorney, is a well-known and flamboyant lawyer and politician. The entire town of Hillsboro is in awe of the fact that Brady is coming to town to try the case.