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Reginald Rose. TWELVE ANGRY MEN. content. Still a text but a play, not a novel Context Legal terms No names Characters Themes Symbols Structure Language Metalanguage. Stage directions Key scenes Guilty or innocent? Question types High scoring responses What now?.

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content
content
  • Still a text but a play, not a novel
  • Context
  • Legal terms
  • No names
  • Characters
  • Themes
  • Symbols
  • Structure
  • Language
  • Metalanguage
  • Stage directions
  • Key scenes
  • Guilty or innocent?
  • Question types
  • High scoring responses
  • What now?
still a text a play not a novel

Brand new text, replaces the most popular text of the last few years, the film ‘Look Both Ways’

  • Whilst not a film, as a play TAM has similar attributes which must be acknowledged and appropriate metalanguage used when discussing it
  • Not a text to be looked at as an easy option – will be very popular and therefore lots of competition to stand out from
  • A short text to read and revise from but deceptively complex to analyse and pinpoint key ideas from
Still a text – a play not a novel
context

An awareness of context is important in order to shape how you interpret Rose’s messages

  • Social backdrop of 1950s America – post depression and WWII
  • Ongoing conflict with Soviet Union – Cold War
  • Civil Rights movement – determination to end racial discrimination, freedom, respect and equality at its core
  • These conflicts are not specifically referenced but allusions are made through the personal tensions between the jurors
  • Setting is the 20th Century American judicial system though the focus is on the role of the individual within this system
  • Rose was impressed by the system after serving on a jury himself and wanted to write about what went on behind closed doors
  • Jury room is a microcosm of society with the best and worst on display
context
legal terms

Understand the terms but express them in your own way or you’ll sound like a legal studies text book.

  • Reasonable doubt: if uncertainty exists, a juror must vote to acquit. Legally, they must find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • Innocent until proven guilty: a fundamental principle of the judicial system where the burden of proof lies with the prosecution.
  • Other terms that you should know and be able to use: verdict, acquit, prosecutor, defendant and convict.
Legal terms
no names

No names are ever referenced – characters are known to the audience by their juror numbers

  • Occupations are also revealed – this shapes the jurors’ identities for the audience also
  • Intensifies the audience’s focus on the personalities of the jurors, their actions, values and views
  • Whilst individuals, these are ordinary men who come from every walk of life, they could be anyone called to perform a duty
  • A jury is anonymous to the defendant and so they are kept this way for the audience who form their own ‘verdict’ on the jurors themselves
  • Juries are functional, not personal
  • Be consistent when you talk about the jurors
  • No juror is deemed more important than their peers
No names
characters
characters

JUROR 8

  • Protagonist, only because he is the chief arguer
  • Architect – often looking out the window
  • He votes “not guilty” during the jury’s first vote
  • Thoughtful
  • Devoted to justice, and is initially sympathetic toward the 19-year-old defendant
  • Urges the others to be patient and to contemplate the details of the case
  • Extremely persuasive, reasons and rationalises his arguments

JUROR 3

  • Something of an antagonist to Juror 8
  • Is the last to change his vote – despite his attitude is to be admired for his resolve
  • Immediately vocal about the supposed simplicity of the case, and the obvious guilt of the defendant
  • Quick to lose his temper, and often infuriated when Juror #8 and other members disagree with his opinions
  • Mixes facts with personal opinion despite his detailed notes
  • Poor relationship with his own son biases his views and only when he comes to terms with this can he finally vote “not guilty
  • ‘Beck and Call’ company – couriers – 37 employees
characters1
characters

JUROR 9

  • Described as a mild, gentle old man, defeated by life and waiting to diein the stage notes, though proves to be the very opposite
  • Is the second of the jurors to vote ‘not guilty’ as he ‘wants to here more’
  • At times timid and bullied by the other jurors but grows in confidence, emerging as a key player in convincing the other jurors to change their vote
  • Contrasts with the old man who takes the witness stand

JUROR 10

  • The most abhorrent member of the group, openly bitter and prejudiced
  • Aggressive and irrational in his reasoning
  • Offensive remarks eventually lead to the other jurors turning their backs on him and he finally reflects enough to change
  • Owns a chain of garages
  • Has a Summer cold
characters2
characters

JUROR 4

  • A logical, well-spoken stock-broker
  • Urges fellow jurors to avoid emotional arguments and engage in rational discussion
  • Does not change his vote until a witness’s testimony is discredited
  • Apparently unaffected by the heat
  • Is capable of emotion – hints early in the play and feels pressure under questioning from Juror 4

JUROR 11

  • A refugee from Europe and has witnessed great injustices
  • Intent on administering justice as a jury member
  • Conveys a deep appreciation for democracy and America’s legal system
  • Rational in his arguments
  • Reminds others of their responsibilities and that personal feelings should not play a role in deliberations
  • Watchmaker
characters3
characters

FOREMAN

  • Takes his role of Foreman seriously and endeavours to be fair
  • Lacks the authoritative nouse to perform his role effectively
  • Essentially calls for votes and counts, contributing little to the discussion
  • Goes with the majority vote rather than independently forming his own judgement
  • High School Football Coach

JUROR 2

  • Initially very timid and bullied into submission by the other jurors
  • Evolves to be more assertive as discussions progress, denies Juror 10 a second cough drop
  • Has concerns about the knife angle and inspires Juror 5 to input
characters4
characters

JUROR 5

  • A nurse in a Harlem hospital
  • Compassionate, softly spoken, rational
  • Initially passes right to speak after the first vote
  • Takes the prejudiced attitudes directed at the defendant as personal attacks
  • Experience in the slums proves key to persuading the votes of the remaining jurors
  • Strong sense of justice

JUROR 7

  • A baseball fan with tickets to the evening’s game
  • Flippant in his decision making, undermining the entire process
  • Is called to account by Juror 3 and from this point says little else
  • Shows the vulnerabilities of the jury system as he undermines the integrity of the process
  • Salesman
characters5
characters

JUROR 6

  • Described as an “honest but dull-witted man”
  • A house painter by trade
  • Says little and is used to being told what to do by others
  • Understands the gravity of the process – hypotheses about letting the defendant free even if he did commit the crime to Juror 8 in the washroom
  • Feels uncomfortable at the comments made by Jurors 3 and 10

JUROR 12

  • Advertising executive, writes jingles and doodles on paper in the jury room
  • Impressed by the prosecutor – has enjoyed the show of a murder trial
  • Assumes that oaths will equate to truth of testimony
  • Cannot articulate his reasoning and changes his vote on multiple occasions
characters6
characters

DEFENDANT

  • 16 years old
  • On trial for the murder of his father whose regular beating are seen as motive for the crime
  • Spent time in and out of the system for previous juvenile crimes
  • Lives in the slums and doesn’t speak good English
  • Never heard directly from; all accounts of him come from others
  • His guilt or innocence is never revealed

OTHERS WORTH A LOOK

  • THE JUDGE
  • THE VICTIM
  • THE OLD MAN WITNESS
  • THE WOMAN WITNESS
  • THE PROSECUTOR
  • DEFENCE ATTORNEY
themes

Justice and the judicial system

  • 12AM highlights the strengths and fragilities of the American judicial system. All of the jurors have taken an oath to listen carefully to the evidence presented in court and ‘to separate the facts from the fancy… I urge you to deliberate honestly and thoughtfully’.
  • They must make a unanimous decision, all agreeing on whether or not ‘reasonable doubt’ exists. The stakes are high; if the defendant is found guilty ‘the death sentence is mandatory’.
  • The jury brings together twelve men from different walks of life who need to come together to consider a verdict; justice dictates that all members of the jury need to unite in their desire for a fair result
  • Rose highlights the irony of the judicial system. There are certain personalities who shape the course of the deliberation, yet queries are raised about the ‘twisting of the facts’.
  • Each of the jurors serves to illustrate that people are not perfect. Each comes in with his own baggage (J3 and his relationship with his son, J10 and his bigoted views, J7’s want to go to the ‘ball game’)
  • J12 represents those cynical about the whole judicial process, declaring ‘the whole thing’s unimportant’ highlighting his lack of understanding of the whole process
  • Even those who have personal biases seem to understand the importance of fulfilling one’s responsibility in the system. J3 reminds J10 that he ‘took an oath in the courtroom’ and not meeting your civic duties is ‘dishonest’.
  • J8 epitomises a fair and conscientious juror who is prepared to stand alone to see a just verdict delivered.
themes
themes1

Justice and the judicial system cont…

  • J7’s instructions to ‘Just worry about yourself’ fly against the message of civic responsibility within the democratic system. His self-interest is dangerous and seemingly undermines the whole system. J11, who comments on the beauty of the American system declares his rejection of his civic duty to be ‘terrible and ugly’
  • Rose makes it clear that some individuals have the potential to undermine the search for justice, whilst others will do all they can to ensure it’s achieved ‘You can’t send someone off to die on evidence like that’.
  • It is the people who make the decisions not the lawyers or courts. These people are human, fallible, and the play encourages the audience to empathise with the characters and ask us to question if we could put aside our prejudices if in such a circumstance.
  • This play is far more concerned with justice than truth. Even when J8 worries about the possibility of letting a guilty man go free, this is revealed as a far better alternative than an innocent man being wrongly convicted.
  • The play traces how a minority view can emerge as the most rational, despite early opposition. J8’s ‘soft sell’ is effective, his slow but steady encouragement leads them to ‘responsibly’ question , rather than passively accept
  • The play ends without ever learning whether or not the defendant is guilty or innocent. This indicates that the ‘truth’ of the events will never be revealed, and that, in fact, they are of little consequence. The play is more about the need for reason and rationality in pursuits of justice. It is the jury system itself, as a legitimate means of obtaining justice, that is being defended in this play
themes
themes2

Prejudice & Stereotypes

  • Rose highlights that some men are unable to put aside their prejudices and personal beliefs even when they are sworn to do so.
  • Prejudice in the play is personified through J3 and J10
  • Rose deliberately provided several jurors who test the preconceived notions of the other jurors: J5 is from the slums, J9 is elderly and J11 is a European migrant who has sought refuge from persecution in America.
  • Irony of the jury consisting of twelve white men
  • The jurors put forward opinions on class stereotypes to explain the murder but it is important to remember that a particular tendency does not equate to evidence of a particular behaviour.
  • The importance of an open mind rather than sticking with preformed and generalised ideas is reinforced throughout the play.
  • J8 states ‘It’s very hard to keep personal prejudice out of a thing like this. And no matter where you run into it, prejudice obscures the truth’.
  • The young man on trial is member of an unspecified minority and has been raised in a slum area. Slums are identified as ‘breeding grounds for criminals’ (p 12 4th Juror) and supported by the 10th Juror: ‘the kids who crawl outa those places are real trash’ (p12). Bigoted generalisations come into conflict with reason and logic.
  • Rose’s message is for democracy to be maintained, objectivity and common sense must prevail over this prejudice.
themes
themes3

Prejudice and Stereotypes cont…

  • The defendant’s lower socio-economic class translates to a range of assumptions from those entrusted to decide his fate.
  • Rose’s shows the power of prejudice and racism to subvert the very systems meant to be impregnable to such concerns. Equality can become void at the hands of these men.
  • Like the defendant, J5 is marginalised for having ‘lived in a slum all my life’. His background provides him a keen understanding of the irrational prejudice, ‘Maybe it still smells on me’. He is also the first to identify that ‘There is something personal!’ in the comments from the other jurors.
  • J11 is a refugee from Europe and represents foreigners who, despite education, are subjected to taunts and racist comments.
  • J10 is the most vehement in his racism and xenophobia. Early on he claims ‘You can’t believe a word they say. I mean, they’re born liars’, probably not only a representative of his character, but also of a larger percentage of the population. His bigoted diatribe towards the end of Act II shows him incapable of making a rational decision about the defendant’s guilt as he is so clouded with his bigoted philosophy.
  • J3 and J10 disrespected J9 for his advanced age , just like the youth are berated for ‘the way they are nowadays’
  • Past experience also works to create personal biases . J3 is determined to convict the defendant due to his experience with his own son. His admittance that ‘I’ve sat on juries’ also encourages us to think about other miscarriages of justice he (or men like him) may have been involved with.
  • Prejudice is overcome by reason and those sensible in the jury silence the zealots.
themes
themes4

Reason and Logic versus Emotion

  • The play highlights we can rarely be absolutely certain of facts. Eg. the first ‘fact’ the men are asked to question is the uniqueness of the switchblade.
  • Even J4, a man consumed with reason and who view’s the woman’s witness statement as ‘unshakeable testimony’ is forced to reconsider when J8 brings the woman’s eyesight into questions, ‘I say she only saw a blur’.
  • The frequency of the use of ‘fact’ also encourages the men, and the audience, to question its validity. Often the facts that the men discuss are opinion.
  • Stage directions in the play also support the possible consequences when logic and emotion clash. Early on J6 questions J8, ‘Suppose you talk us all outa this and the kid really did knife his father?’ J8 has no replay but the uncertainty is clear ‘we know that this is the problem which has been tormenting him. He does not know, and never will’.
  • Rose’s message is that there will always be uncertainties in life, and we should remain aware of them.
  • ‘Reasonable doubt’ is praised as a ‘safeguard which has enormous value in our system. No jury can declare a man guilty unless it’s sure’.
  • While J8, 9 and 11 are able to sift logically through the exhibits and testimonies, J3 and 10 can only personalise the case, unable to contain their tempers and violent outbursts.
themes
themes5

Reason and Logic versus Emotion

  • J3 immediately bases his assessment on personal views, ‘The man’s a dangerous killer. You could see it’.
  • J6 displayed his immediate conclusions, ‘I mean I was convinced from the first day’. He seems ill-equipped to perform his civic duties due to a limited use of reason. He is ‘not used to supposing’, instead reliant on others to facilitate his role.
  • J4 wants to use logic for self-gain ‘There’s no reason why they can’t be persuaded to do it again… Just by using logic’
  • J7 is not interested in logically working through the evidence ‘Ran, walked. What’s the difference?’
  • J8 epitomises reason and logic; re-enacting events, making calculations about the el train.
  • J10 allows emotion to cloud most of what he says, ‘They breed like animals’
  • J11 is rationale and sensible ‘I don’t believe I have to be loyal to one side or the other. I am simply asking questions… To say a man is capable of committing murder does not mean that he has committed murder’.
  • The tasks to determine the ‘facts’ from ‘fancy’ are not as simple as it would seem. The process requires the men to deliberate with objectivity; those who cannot are eventually made to look quite foolish.
themes
themes6

Fallibility and memory

  • People think eyewitness testimony is reliable , but research shows it is often not.
  • The following factors can influence accuracy of eyewitness testimony:
    • Stress and trauma
    • Error
    • Disruptive and sometimes reconstructive effects of exposure to facts after the event
    • Intentional or unintentional leading questions to witnesses
    • Intentional fabrication by witnesses
  • 9th Juror says that to gain attention old man could have convinced himself he heard the defendant shouting before the murder when he hadn’t.
  • The 8th Juror’s suspicions that the witnesses are fallible and not accurate form much of the basis for his argument of reasonable doubt.
  • Those that object to the accuracy of the witnesses’ evidence being called seem to take it personally. 10th Juror says “You’re makin’ out like it don’t matter what people say” p. 32.
  • Fallible human memory also strengthens defendant’s case – as 8th shows through questioning 4th,, stress can lead to memory loss..
  • Rose is not condemning human fallibility just, via 8th juror, saying we should accept it exists and take it into account in our judgements, particularly here where a boy’s life is at stake.
themes
themes7

Integrity/Courage of Conviction

  • Juror 8 is the only one to vote ‘not guilty’ initially. The 9th’s reason to vote not guilty with him is initially simply out of admiration for 8th’s integrity: ‘…it’s not easy to stand alone against the ridicule of others.’
  • However, it could be argued that 8th is too manipulative. He forces the jury to consider the other knife he illegally bought, he often questions others closely and is accused by the 3rd of ‘cross-examining us . Courage of conviction, yes. Integrity?
  • The 9th and 11th are revealed as men of conviction and integrity. The latter as a recent immigrant represents the ideal American.
  • It could be argued that 4th shows courage and conviction by hanging on so long to the guilty verdict because he is convinced by the woman’s eyewitness testimony.
  • It is interesting to examine how 2nd grows in conviction and courage. He is a somewhat fearful placating kind of man at the start of the play. Note he offers cough drops at the start – ‘I’ll take one’ says 10th. He is trying to be helpful. Towards the end of the play when 10 has become quite unpopular, 10 asks for the cough drops and 2 replies, ‘They’re all gone, my friend.’ Then after that he raises the issue of the angle of the stab wound – first time he initiates discussion
themes
themes8

Integrity/Courage of Conviction cont…

  • Although the 3rd is personally prejudiced and often fairly unpleasant he is not entirely without integrity. He apologises to the 5th on page 21 for unfairly saying he changed his vote and attacking him. In Act II he is unimpressed with the 10th juror wanting to quit. “You took an oath in the courtroom. You can’t just quit” p.43 and calls him ‘dishonest’. He’s also unimpressed with the 7th for changing his vote to ‘not guilty’ just because he’s had enough ‘That’s no answer’ p. 50.
  • 7th and 10th and 12th cannot be said to exhibit much integrity or courage of conviction. 7th is just interested in getting out of the jury room and enjoying sport. The 10th is so consumed with prejudice and selfishness he cannot think reasonably and humanely. It is interesting that unlike the 3rd no logical reasons account for change of heart of 10 – he just finally feels outnumbered and feigns indifference as a way of protecting himself from caring. ‘You smart bastards do whatever you want.’ The 12th is an extremely superficial character – he is interested in the appearance of things, of how ideas are presented but not ideas themselves, of the outside of the Woolworth’s building, but never going inside.
  • Foreman does show integrity – when confronting 10th over his rudeness ‘You want to do it? Here. You sit here. You take the responsibility.’ And then when 12th typically says ‘The whole thing’s unimportant.’ He replies, ‘Unimportant? You want to try it?’ Indicating that he takes the role seriously.
  • Fifth – Stands up for himself when the 10th insults those from the boy’s neighbourhood and later is the first to walk out when the 10th rants against ‘them’ on p.51.
  • Sixth – a simple working man whose boss does the supposing he says. Yet he is the one who confronts 8th on p.22 ‘Suppose you talk us all outa this and the kid really did knife his father?’
  • The play explores how in truly critical situations a person’s integrity and courage is revealed.
themes
themes9

Conflict

  • One big conflict – 12 angry men arguing over a case – different backgrounds, views etc. Case itself is obviously result of conflict. Defendant has battled all his life. The case is about conflict – defending and prosecuting lawyers against each other. Perhaps if that conflict had been better and sharper the one in the jury room wouldn’t have been so divisive.
  • Internal conflict – within themselves. Juror 8 – in washroom after 6th’s question. Juror 3’s terrible internal conflict over the dysfunctional conflict with his son. Juror 4 – when he can’t remember names of films etc and starts to sweat.
  • Conflict between the jurors. Conflict between 3 and 8 develops throughout play.
  • Juror 9 and 10 are in conflict. Juror 9 calls 10 ‘an ignorant man’ and later tries to confront him again. Juror 8 interestingly stops 9 both times from getting involved. Juror 9 calls 10 a sick man and says he should sit down during his rant.
  • Juror 10’s xenophobic rant is rejected by all the jurors.
  • Stage directions indicate conflict – looks, action, stance, demeanour etc.
themes
symbols

Weather/Heat – ongoing tension, parallels to action in the room, adds to the physical discomfort, often a conversation starter, the storm indicates a shift in psyche for many of the jurors

  • Clock – real time indicator of the elapsed time on stage, a reminder of the time pressure many of the jurors feel, a reminder to the men to use their time wisely
  • Window – looks out over the Manhattan skyline, a reminder of the bigger picture – the social implications that the verdict reflects, observations of the skyline reflect the broader values of the jurors
  • Small room – the door is locked, the men are caged and as an audience we watch them like animals in a zoo, exacerbates the feelings of claustrophobia experienced by the men and tension
  • The Knife – a weapon in the murder and the case against the boy, intense discussion of its use is eventually used to shape ‘not guilty’ verdicts, a dramatic moment when Juror 8 finds another ‘one of a kind’
  • The Fan – initially does not work so can’t provide relief from the heat, eventually clear heads prevail and its link to the light switch (a lightbulb moment for all) is revealed
  • The Washroom – a place to retreat, mundane room but used as a place of grave reflection
Symbols
structure

Two Acts – Act One ends after Juror 3’s outburst and threats to kill Juror 8

  • Trial has lasted three days, deliberations begin on the Friday night
  • Gradual revelation of the crime that has been committed
  • Most dialogue succinct – Juror 10’s diatribe is the exception
  • There are pauses and breaks when the jurors move away from the table – to the washroom, water cooler and the window
  • Follows the jurors deliberations from one ‘not guilty’ to unanimous agreement
  • Each piece of evidence and creation of doubt is carefully staged – Rose intends for the jurors to look carefully at each piece
structure
language

1950s America

  • Jurors’ speech reflects their background and experiences
  • Juror 11 – migrant, formal, syntax is sometimes out of order
  • Juror 10 accuses the defendant of not even speaking ‘good English’ – a deliberate strategy by Rose to highlight the hypocrisy of his observation. He also has the longest speech in the play filled with rhetoric, hyperbole and repetition
  • Nuances of other jurors – Juror 3, 7 and 12
language
stage directions

Contribute to tension and underscore the issues addressed in the play

  • Look closely at when and where jurors move – Who is speaking? What are they saying? Who moves? Why?
  • What is said about facial expressions?
  • The judge’s voice over – empty stage before the actors have entered. Consider what this means?
  • Re-enactment of elements of the case – the old man’s testimony and the knife
  • Consider who changes their vote and how this is described
  • The weather – how is it described and most importantly – when?
Stage directions
metalanguage

Symbolism – The weather provides a pathetic fallacy for the growing tension between the jurors. Just as the storm looms outside, so too does the pressure within the room grow to a climax.

Foreshadowing – Multiple statements are made by the jurors which foreshadow events in the play. Consider: ‘everyone has a breaking point’, ‘witnesses make mistakes’ and ‘prejudice obscures the truth’.

Setting – Establishing the setting of the play in the confines of a small jury room exacerbates the tension experienced by the men. That a decision of significant gravity is to be made in a drab and ordinary room, mirroring the decisions that people make on a day to day basis which also have momentous consequences.

Motif – The knife, a recurring motif in the play is at the heart of a number of turning points in the play.

Metalanguage
guilty or innocent

That the guilt or innocence is never revealed to the audience, whilst frustrating for some, is not important. Rose intends for the focus of the play to be the jurors and their deliberations and suggests that it is better to free a guilty man than to convict an innocent one. It is a question which bothers some of the jurors, even Juror 8 who is the first to vote not guilty. Reasonable doubt though is not held up to be a perfect safeguard, rather just a safeguard in system which itself is not perfect.

Guilty or innocent?
key scenes

The judge’s opening address

  • The first vote
  • The one of kind knife
  • Juror 9 changes his mind
  • Jurors 8 and 6 in the washroom
  • The old man and Juror 9
  • Re-enactment of the old man’s testimony and Juror 10’s outburst
  • Juror 11’s reminders of responsibility
  • Juror 3’s reminder to Juror 10 of the oath
  • Juror 7 versus Juror 11 – times two
  • The quizzing of Juror 4
  • The angle of the stab wound
  • Juror 10’s racist rant and the others’ responses to him
  • Juror 4 and the glasses
  • Juror 3 and ‘he’s not your boy.’
Key scenes
question types
Question types

CHARACTER

In voting ‘not guilty’ first, Juror 8 demonstrates the most integrity of all the jurors. Do you agree?

THEME

Prejudice is both a dangerous inhibitor to justice and also a promoter. Discuss.

question types1
Question types

STRUCTURE

Rose’s stage directions are as important to the action of the play as the characters’ dialogue. Discuss.

VALUES

Rose legitimises the role of the jury within the judicial system. Do you agree?

question types2

READER INTERPRETATION

Juror 10’s vote of ‘not guilty’ is the most significant moment in the play. Do you agree?

Question types
high scoring responses

Will treat this text as a play and fluently integrate stage directions into their writing

  • Will look at the implications of the topic
  • Deal with the entire topic and not just key words in isolation
  • Will contextualise quotes and examples in relation to where they happen in the action of the play
  • Develop, develop, develop in detail
  • Will refer frequently to what Rose’s intention/values/messages are in relation to the topic
  • Will use words like play and audience
High scoring responses
what now

Topic sentences

  • Plans
  • Paragraphs
  • Concept webs
  • Brainstorms
  • Pictures and quotes
  • Timelines
  • Essays
  • Watch the film if you need to but remember you’re writing on the play!
What now?