What Actually Happened? We'll Never Know.

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FIRST REPORTER (writing). Under the heavy artillery fire of the State's attorney's brilliant cross-questioning, the accused woman's defense was badly riddled...
SECOND REPORTER (writing). Undaunted by the Prosecution's machine-gun attack, the defendant was able to maintain her position of innocence...

The contradicting views of the reporters in Machinal are rather intriguing.  This simple passage epitomizes that we, as mere naive bystanders, have no idea what is actually going on in society.  Everyone has their own biases, and, for reporters, this is evident in all or their written work.  Imagine if their news stories on the young woman's trial were published in rival newspapers.  What would people's response be?  Many a dinner conversation would include this topic; and everyone would have their own take on it depending on where they got their information.  I would venture to argue that it is impossible for a citizen to be well-informed in a society where news is as fickle as Pennsylvania weather.  No one can really know the story unless they were actually present at the event.  

Thus, if the young woman had simply kept her mouth shut and not confessed to the murder, no one could have charged her as guilty.  Without concrete evidence, in the eyes of the law, the woman was innocent.  Granted, each of the reporters would have had their own view on the outcome of trial, which correspondingly would mean that the entire town would have known exactly how their respective reporter witnessed the trial.  But unfortunately, no one would ever know the real story.  In fact, since the actual murder wasn't written into the play, even someone reading the play wouldn't know the real story, only what the author implied.

2 Comments

Nikita McClellan said:

This is a very good point. I myself was even wondering if she had actually done it at first. I actually even said "that's it?" after the kiling scene for a lack of a better term. The reporter did play an important part in this play to make the entire ending of it mysteriouis and questioning.

Marie vanMaanen said:

I think you make an interesting point about knowing the real events if the author doesn't actually tell you. I think it lets you create your own ending though in a way and lets you be the one to judge what should happen to the characters. In this sense, it allows the reader to become the author in one's own mind. I also wanted to note that when I read it, I found this section between the reporters very intriguing as well. However, my original thoughts on this section were how it shows that people interpret things differently. What seems hopeful to one person may seem like the end to another person. In some ways, it relates to your thoughts on what actually happened. Everyone understands things differently just like everyone who reads this play will have a slightly different idea of what actually happened.

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