29

Throughout the film 12 Angry Men (1957) (as well as the other plays and films, I assume) the jurors do not know each other by name, only number. That is until the final scene when jurors 8 (the protagonist) and 9 (the old man) share their names of Davis and McCardle, respectively.

Is there any significance of these names, or even of the act of name swapping itself?

1
  • There may be some significance in the name Davis - it sounds very similar to David, and it was a David and Goliath situation in the beginning, when he was alone against 11 others.
    – RobertG
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 1:12

2 Answers 2

17

A jury usually withheld names in order to remove any effects of names, castes etc into the process. Inside the jury room, the people are simply humans trying to impart justice. When two people swap names, it signifies a bond, especially if it is done after passing through an experience together. The men, after having gone through a emotional, social and philosophical awakening inside the room, share a common realization of the darkness inside every one of them. They have now formed a bond because they believe each of them has contributed to the right by voting not guilty. When the two men exchange names, it is their belief and respect in each other, as well as the implication of a beginning of a bond or friendship between the two. When (in the old times), strangers came to town, the names would be exchanged only when they had gathered respect or became enemies. Thus, the name exchange signifies the human social element in the men, that outside the jury room, they are just ordinary people in their lives.

3
  • Good answer. However I've been on a jury recently and there were no restrictions on sharing names--are you saying it was customary not to back when the film was set?
    – Verge
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 2:01
  • A lot of novels and films depict not mentioning the jury names. Its a custom, not a rule. So some follow it some dont. It is voluntary, not an legal obligation. Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 15:18
  • @Verge - It's been a couple decades, but on my jury we never exchanged any names, before, during or after. Maybe it wasn't a restriction, but just something they opted to do. Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 16:00
1

It humanizes them. But notice, after that, old Mr. McCardle suddenly looks uncomfortable, as if he feels he's crossed a line of inappropriate intimacy. These men are supposed to symbolize universal humanity, despite their highly idiosyncratic individuality. Also maybe it's better if they just remain (maybe for each other, but for the audience) anonymous.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .