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What's the significance of Mrs Peters' recollections of incidents in her life: her...

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sanpiter10 | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:37 PM via web

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What's the significance of Mrs Peters' recollections of incidents in her life: her kitten and her baby's death. What role do they play in her decision to protect Mrs.Wright?

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kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted February 12, 2012 at 7:51 AM (Answer #1)

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Mrs Hale is initially the most empathetic of Minnie Wright’s life, but, as she recalls specific events from her own life, Mrs Peters begins to understand Minnie’s plight.

When the dead canary is found with its neck broken, it is obvious that it was deliberately killed. Mrs Peters remembers a kitten she had which was killed in front of her by a local boy. She remembers her own passionate reaction, which helps her to understand why Minnie may have killed her husband-

"If they hadn't held me back I would have"--she caught herself, looked upstairs where footsteps were heard, and finished weakly--"hurt him."

Mrs Peters remembers the quietness and isolation she felt after the death of her child-

 I know what stillness is," she said, in a queer, monotonous voice. "When we homesteaded in Dakota, and my first baby died--after he was two years old--and me with no other then--"

She is able to see that Mrs Wright would be tormented by the silence after the joyful song of the canary, as she was plagued by the lack of the comforting sounds of a child.

 Mrs Peters has a strong sense of justice, and on reflection is able to see that justice for Minnie would be for her to be free of any more punishment.

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