English 20-2 Legal Literature/Social Justice Unit
Program of Work
Reflective Questions for Plato’s Apology
Minor assignments should be in complete sentences and good paragraphs. Responses should be roughly a page in length.
1. What is self-knowledge? How do you come to know yourself?
2. Do you think that all evil/bad deeds that we do are the result of ignorance, or can we knowingly do evil/bad things? Explain.
3. How do we make decisions about what is right and what is wrong?
4. Recount Socrates’ metaphor of being the “gadfly of Athens” and how this relates to what he sees as his role in the city as one who assists others in “awakening.” What is meant by “awakening” in this sense? Recount a personal experience of your own “awakening.”
5. What is Socrates accused of? What’s his defence? How would you vote if you were a member of the jury? Why?
6. What does Socrates mean when he says that “the unexamined life is not worth living for a human being” (38a)? Do you agree? Why or why not?
7. Inspect the second to last paragraph of the Apology (41e). What does Socrates ask the city to do to his sons after his death? Why?
Reginald Rose’s Twelve Angry Men
Reading Comprehension Questions
Respond in complete sentences.
1. What does it mean to say that someone is guilty “beyond all reasonable doubt”?
2. What is the charge against the accused? What is the penalty for a finding of guilt?
3. How does the law work with regard to votes on a jury? What must happen for a jury to be adjourned?
4. What was the first vote tally?
5. What is said to have happened in the crime?
6. Why do most of the men want to have the first vote pass? (Two Reasons)
7. Why does the dissenter want to talk about the crime? What does he emphasize about the son’s life, and how it might have contributed to the incident?
8. What does it mean to say that “the burden of proof is on the prosecution”? Why is this important for their judgements?
9. What is the problem with the one juror’s statement that “you can’t refute the facts”? Explain.
10. What makes the woman’s story problematic?
11. What is a motive? What is considered to be the motive of the boy in the case?
12. Why are the boy’s priors considered good evidence against him by some of the jurors? Why do others view these priors and the boy’s history differently?
13. What role does discrimination play in clouding the judgements of the jurors? Give examples.
14. How long had the jurors sat watching and listening during the trial?
15. What criticism is levelled against the defence lawyer’s defence of the boy?
16. What two people’s testimony is the entire case for the prosecution said to rest upon?
17. Why is the knife thought to have been good evidence against the boy? What turns out to be problematic about this evidence?
18. What is a “hung jury”?
19. How is the second vote organized? What is the vote count?
20. What role does bullying play in the jury’s deliberations?
21. What reason is given by the man who changes his vote?
22. What problem is there corroborating the testimonies of the old man who said he heard the argument and the body hitting on the floor on the one hand, and the woman who says that she saw the fight through the last two cars of the EL-train?
23. What does the older juror say about the old man that throws his testimony against the boy into disrepute? What does he suspect motivates the old man’s testimony?
24. What point is made about the boy’s statement: “I’m going to kill you”? What happens later in the jury room that makes this statement problematic as evidence?
25. What problem is posed by the defence lawyer having been “appointed” to his position?
26. What are the reasons given on both sides concerning whether or not the boy went back to the apartment after the murder?
27. What is the third vote count?
28. What is exposed as a problem with the old man’s testimony when they study the lay-out of his apartment is inspected?
29. What does the eleventh juror say about the merits of democracy and jury duty?
30. What is the resulting vote count of the “open ballot”?
31. What problem do the juror’s begin to see with supposing that the boy’s failure to remember details about the movies is a sign of his guilt? What do they begin to suppose could account for his poor memory?
32. What suspicions are thrown on the way that the knife-wound went “down and in”?
33. Why is the baseball fan chastised for changing his vote? On what grounds should a man properly change is vote?
34. Why do all the jurors leave the table when the one juror is saying how “all of them” or the people of “his type” are “no good”?
35. What does it mean to say that “personal prejudice always obscures the truth”? Explain why.
36. Why is it significant that the one juror rubbed his eyes when he was tired? What does the old man note may be significant about this gesture for the court case?
37. What do the other jurors demand of the lone juror who holds his ground and continues to vote “guilty”?
38. What is the un-stated suggestion about why the last juror wants the boy being tried to suffer?
39. Why does the last juror eventually decide to change his vote to “not guilty”?
40. In a paragraph, state what you take to be the theme or message of this play. Provide supporting examples from the play itself to make your answer persuasive.