If the death of John Wright, in Trifles, is the inciting incident, what action sets the narrative in motion?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Trifles by Susan Glaspell takes place in a simple setting with a limited number of characters. There is no time for analysis of character or any investigation into questionable actions or moral judgement. In establishing the action from which the narrative proceeds, it is interesting to note that neither the deceased nor the accused actually feature in the setting. However, the narrative is strong enough to reveal characteristics that make it possible to assume and deduce the sequence of events. The audience is also introduced to the concept of relativity in accepting the decision of Mrs Hale and Mrs Peters to collaborate in keeping vital information from the county attorney and Sheriff Peters. 

The narrative, or the story itself, traces past events and allows the audience to draw their own social and principled conclusions. What other stories take hundreds of pages to tell or long plays to conclude, Trifles tells us in a nutshell.  "It's all just a different kind of the same thing," sums up the perceptions. Everyone is accountable for their actions and, as John Wright failed to notice that his actions or in-actions caused great distress to his wife, he therefore suffered as a result. His obtuse and narcissistic behavior then, led to the desperate and devastating actions of his wife. 

Left alone in the farmhouse, no longer able to sing in the church choir as she did before she married Wright, with no means of communication with anyone- not even her neighbors, as guiltily pointed out by Mrs Hale- caused Mrs Wright to lose her sense of right and wrong.

It is the unwise but foreseeable actions of Minnie Wright, that set the narrative in motion and allow Mrs Hale and Mrs Peters to recognize the signs of an abused and neglected woman and also themselves contribute to the development of the narrative. The men, in their haste to find concrete clues therefore overlook all these so-called "trifles," failing to notice the real consequences of Wright's behavior and inattention towards his lonely wife.  

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