Throughout the play, the men laugh at the women for their interest in what they consider "trifles" of no importance. For example, as the play is beginning, the sheriff, Henry Peters, laughs at the women as they exclaim over Minnie's pretty log cabin pattern quilt and wonder how she is going to assemble it. Peters says:
They wonder if she was going to quilt it or just knot it!
[The men laugh, the women look abashed.]
To the women, these trifles are important facets of their hardworking lives. By taking seriously the details the men dismiss as not worth noticing, the women are able to piece together what happened to Minnie to cause her to snap and kill her husband. As they realize what occurred, they grow angrier and angrier and more inclined to want to protect Minnie.
When the men come back, they ask again in a condescending, mocking away about whether Minnie was going to knot or quilt the quilt. The women tell them, but George Henderson, the county attorney, forgets. He says, in a joking way:
Well, Henry, at least we found out that she was not going to quilt it. She was going to—what is it you call it, ladies?
MRS HALE: (her hand against her pocket) We call it—knot it, Mr Henderson.
The last line is significant because while Mrs. Hale answers the question, she also hides an important piece of evidence in her pocket—the dead bird. What is more important than what she says is what she leaves unsaid. Mrs. Hale shows a form of female power in keeping silent, as does Mrs. Peters.
Mrs. Hale's tone is likely quiet but with an edge of contempt that the men won't hear because it doesn't occur to them the women have any reason to be contemptuous of them. I believe that the belittling put-downs of the men about the quilt, along with the more serious abuse that Minnie suffered at her husband's hands, fills Mrs. Hale with anger and disgust. I identify with her and share her anger at the men for their dismissal of the women, a societal norm which allows men like John Wright to disregard their wives' feelings in more destructive ways.