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The play "Trifles" takes place in the dirty, chaotic kitchen of Mrs. Minnie Wright one cold winter day. The sheriff, the attorney, and a neighbor come to the house to investigate the death of Mr. John Wright, who was strangled in his sleep. The wives of the men accompany them to investigate the events for themselves. As the group inspects the house the tiny details (or trifles) paint the picture of what has occurred in the house.
A division is quickly established between the men and the women. The men interview Lewis who first found John's body. He explains that when he arrived he found Minnie rocking, nervously in her chair. He says that she simply stated that John was upstairs, dead, with a rope around his neck. He explains that he stopped by to see if they would want to share a telephone line knowing that Minnie would want to, but that John wouldn't care what she wanted. The men dismiss the women's questions and discussions (is she quilting or knotting her latest project) as frivolous, but it is through the women's discoveries that the truth is revealed.
While the men go upstairs to look for clues, the women go to the kitchen. The women reflect on when John and Minnie first got married and John took her to their house on the bottom of the hill. People described him as a quiet man with a violent nature that crushed Minnie's spirit and desires.
Here they see an empty birdcage with a broken door. While the women can't remember if she had a bird, they do remember that she once had a beautiful singing voice. Inside Minnie's sewing box, they find a dead bird, with a broken neck, wrapped in a piece of silk. Mrs. Peters reflects on the death of a kitten when she was younger. She points how hurt and helpless she felt at the time. Instinctively, the women know to hire the bird, claiming the cat got it, knowing that it would be the evidence against their friend that the men are looking for.
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