Why doesn't the author of Twelve Angry Men refer to to characters by their names? How does this technique impact the story?

The author does not refer to the characters using their names because jurors are nameless in court. They are referred to by their juror number. Anonymity seemingly protects their ability to make impartial decisions, but personal bias gets in the way. For example, Juror No. 4, "a man of wealth,” prejudges the defendant, who comes from a low income background. This technique shows that the jury could be any 12 people who bring their own biases to the judicial process.

Expert Answers

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

The author does not refer to the characters using their names because jurors are generally nameless in court. The judge calls jurors by their numbers, just as the author does here. The anonymity is meant to protect their ability to make impartial decisions based, presumably, on just the facts of...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

The author does not refer to the characters using their names because jurors are generally nameless in court. The judge calls jurors by their numbers, just as the author does here. The anonymity is meant to protect their ability to make impartial decisions based, presumably, on just the facts of the case. However, personal bias often gets in the way.

Although they are nameless, the jurors are described. For instance, we are told that the foreman is a “small, petty man.” This provides some insight into what his thinking might be about the case. Does his small stature and petty nature make him resentful of other men? He might have a bias towards the defendant even before learning the facts of the case.

Juror No. 4 “seems to be a man of wealth and position.” Are we to suppose that Juror No. 4 might be a social snob because of his wealth? Would that, therefore, prejudice him against the defendant, who comes from a relatively low income background?

This technique shows that the jury could be comprised of any group of 12 people who bring their own backgrounds, fears, resentments, aspirations and sense of social justice and ethics to the process when forming a conclusion about a person’s guilt or innocence. We see this as the jury deliberates through the course of the play.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team