What are the differences between Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters in terms of their status, backgrounds, and comparative strengths of character?
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Mrs Hale is an astute investigator as well as being a farmer’s wife like Minnie Wright. She has known Minnie for most of her life and looks to the changes that have happened to her life under the influence of her cruel husband John Wright. She pieces together the crime, like the quilt Minnie was working on, despite the derision of the men.
Mrs Peters is a loyal wife, of higher social status as a sheriff's wife. She is less able to see the influence and control of a husband as objectively –and perhaps cynically – as Mrs Hale. It is Mrs Peters who is most like Minnie in that she acquiesces to her husband. However, the end of the story unites her with Mrs Hale in defending Minnie Wright from punishment as she rushes to hide the evidence from the men:
For a moment Mrs. Peters did not move. And then she did it. With a rush forward, she threw back the quilt pieces, got the box, tried to put it in her handbag.
However, it is Mrs Peters who has the strength to complete the subterfuge:
Martha Hale snatched the box from the sheriff's wife, and got it in the pocket of her big coat just as the sheriff and the county attorney came back into the kitchen.
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