abstract illustration of twelve angry looking human faces

Twelve Angry Men

by Reginald Rose

Start Free Trial

What was the young man's alibi in "Twelve Angry Men", and why was it deemed unbelievable?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The defendant claimed to have been watching a movie alone on the night of the murder. Straight away, this raises a red flag. If there was no one else there at the all-night movie theater, then no one can corroborate the young man's story. How very convenient! Also, why can't he remember the name of the film? I'm pretty sure that if most of us went to the cinema to watch a movie we'd at least be able to remember its name, even if—or especially if—it was a really bad one. Juror no.4 is absolutely right to insist that the boy's alibi is flimsy, especially when you consider that no eyewitnesses have stepped forward to substantiate his whereabouts at the time of the killing.

On the face of it, it would seem that the defendant doesn't have a hope in hell of avoiding the death penalty. Yet his alibi is so weak it almost has to be true. If the defendant were really guilty, then we might think he'd be able to come up with a more convincing alibi. This fact alone may not be sufficient to acquit, but at the very least it does provide food for thought.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The boy's alibi for the night of his father's murder was that he was watching a movie alone in a movie theater but this alibi he presented was too weak to be trusted completely. First he failed to recall the name of the movie or the plot even though he has only seen it within the week of questioning. Juror #8 tries to explain for the boy's inability to remember saying people often forget trivial details of their daily lives but the boy not being able to even recall the name of the movie seemed inadequate and unreasonable. The lack of witness also contributed to the failure of the alibi. He claimed to have gone to the movie alone and that no witness is available to testify for the legibility of his alibi. This seems unlikely as theaters are usually crowded with people and teenagers of his age usually hang around with companions or friends.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial