Summary of A Jury of Her Peers
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The short story “A Jury of Her Peers” by Susan Glaspell starts with four people – the sheriff, his wife, Mr. Hale, who provides the eyewitness account, and his wife. They travel to the home of John and Minnie Wright to investigate the murder of the former, presumably by the latter. As the sheriff and Hale move throughout the house to gather evidence for Mrs. Wright’s motive, the two other women remain in the kitchen area, contemplating the life that Mrs. Wright led and whether she could have possibly killed her husband.
These women – a jury of Mrs. Wright’s peers – consider everything before them, from the half-emptied sugar bag to the disorganized pots and pans. When the men challenge Mrs. Wright’s ability to keep house, they defend her, saying that being the wife of a farmer is difficult work, indeed.
- The Jury looks at a quilt Mrs. Wright had been working on
- The Jury notices the erratic nature of the stitching on some pieces
- The Jury question what might have caused her to be nervous or distracted, resulting in the shoddy work.
- The Jury finds a birdcage whose door had been broken off
- The Jury finds the canary wrapped in a silk cloth, its neck clearly broken.
Glaspell included this to symbolize Minnie herself because she was once a lively, vivacious singer who had been silenced when she was married to John Wright. Ultimately, the women come to no conclusion, but are remorseful for not reaching out to Mrs. Wright earlier and potentially providing her with the sort of support she needed in a marriage that was likely wrought with tension and possibly abuse.