What is Hornbeck's greatest impact on the play?  Any good quotes to add to my discussion of it?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Hornbeck's impact on the play is to operate as the voice of anti- modernism in America.  In my mind, the play is a great thematic analysis of ideas that rise out of the 1920s.  With its emphasis on consumer culture, mass consumption, and the growth of the celebrity, there was a great deal of faith in the progress evident in American society and the nation, as a whole.  The Cates/ Scopes trial was intended to be the penultimate statement on religion vs. science.  The belief in progress was so present in the 1920s that society believed it could "settle" the debate between scientific evolution and religious creationism.  Hornbeck's function is to operate as the doubting voice of this progress, the anti- modernist.  He rejects the socially closed view of the fundamentalist South, for their belief systems preach that "they have the answer."  He places doubt in anyone or any structure that claims to have absolute understanding.  His voice throughout the play is to undercut and potential solutions at a "happy ending" and unifying vision.  In his voice, we see that the growth and progress of American democracy will always have its critics, which don't detract from it, but actually strengthen it.  A line of his that indicates this would be when he looks at the crowd gathered outside the courthouse, burning Cates in effigy, and says, "Well, those are the boobs that make our laws. That's the democratic process."

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