The suspect of the murder of her husband, Mrs. Wright seems to have greatly changed from her youth thirty years ago in which she has been described by Mrs. Hale as "...one of the town girls singing in the choir," a lively girl who "used to wear pretty clothes." Clearly, the alienation and repression of her life on an isolated farm has repressed the former Minnie Foster.
As the County Attorney and Sheriff search for a motive for the murder of Mr. Wright, their wives look for an apron to send along to Mrs. Wright who is in jail. However, as the two women wait on their husbands, they come across some odd things. For instance, Mrs. Peters discovers that Mrs. Wright was making a quilt, while Mrs. Hale notices that although other squares are sewn neatly, there is a piece on which Mrs. Wright was working that is "all over the place" as though she did not know how to sew. From this stitching, Mrs. Hale deduces that Mrs. Wright must have been very nervous. Then, when she finds a bird cage in a cupboard, Mrs. Hale recalls that a man had come around last year selling canaries. But, then the women notice that the door of the cage has one hinge pulled apart. They speculate that Mrs. Wright must have purchased a canary in her loneliness , for Mr. Wright has been "a hard man, [L]ike a raw wind that gets to the bone."
Upon further reflection, Mrs. Peters surmises that Mrs. Wright is much like a little bird herself--"real sweet and pretty, but kind of timid, and--fluttery." Now, the women wonder where the bird is; but they soon discover it in the sewing box with its delicate neck rung just as Mr. Wright has had his neck wrung and twisted. The women look at each other, and in this glance, there is "comprehension, horror, and understanding." When the County Attorney and Sheriff Peters reappear, the women come to her defense and reveal little other than the supposition that Mrs. Wright intended to "knot" her quilt.
Clearly, the women come to realize that Mrs. Wright could not endure the terrible silence after the death of the one joy she had was killed, so she retaliated and killed Mr. Wright.