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How do these reactions contribute to the theme of the story?Throughout the story...

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sanpiter10 | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 13, 2011 at 12:26 AM via web

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How do these reactions contribute to the theme of the story?

Throughout the story Glaspell compare the reactions of men and women to ordinary household items.

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 13, 2011 at 1:57 AM (Answer #1)

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This question is worthy of a lot of analysis because Susan Glaspell demonstrates the limited mentality of Minnie Foster Wright's society, and how this mentality may determine her life or death.

Minnie is found guilty even before she is formally accused. She is accused by a society ran by men who believe that the place of the woman is in the kitchen and that it is the woman, and not the man of the house, who is responsible for administering, nurturing, loving, and entertaining in the family.

This would be a fair enough situation when the woman receives as much as she gives. If she is well-supported by her husband, loved, cherished, respected, and protected there is no reason to understand why a woman of that time and age would want to reciprocate.

Yet, what do we see in the case of Minnie? As the investigation reported, the ONLY area where the men did not bother spend too much time was the kitchen. Why? Because, as they say, the kitchen is the place for the woman of the house and, for that reason, all they feel they could find in the kitchen is what they deemed merely as

kitchen things

This is the first sign that we get from Glaspell that women are essentially limited to cooking.

When the jam jars appeared broken and into a big mess, it was immediately assumed that Minnie was a bad housewife that didn't bother clearning.

As the ladies remember Minnie's clothing, they realize that Minnie once had been a well-dressed young woman who enjoyed sharing with friends. Yet, here they see dirty old clothes. This is a woman who is broken, and has just given up.

Minnie's stitching, all erratic and incomplete, suggests a woman so scared and nervous that not even the comfort of knitting would have helped her tolerate her private hades.

Finally, the discovery of the birdcage, forced open, and the further finding of the bird carefully wrapped in silk, and with its neck broken denotes the final straw of abuse: The final stabbing at the emotions of a helpless woman.

Therefore, the reactions contribute to explain the conflict of the story: The fact that Minnie, whatever her crime, is not a killer- she is an abused woman who snapped. That she will never been understood by society because women are meant to serve in silence. Therefore, poor Minnie Wright will pay for the crimes done upon her, due to the many limitations of an ignorant and chauvinistic society.

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