How does the author use foreshadowing in A Jury of Her Peers, and what affect does it have on the story?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In both Glaspell's short story and her play of the same name, remarks are made by the men about how women focus upon insignificant things, and nothing in the kitchen can be of any consequence in finding evidence to solve the murder of Mr. Wright. Ironically, however, this thinking of the men foreshadows the failure of the sheriff's investigation to uncover the "trifles" that provides the motive for Wright's murder.

"Well, can you beat the women! Held for murder, and worrying about her preserves!"

This is the portentous remark that Sheriff Peters makes when his wife notices that the glass jars of Mrs. Wright have broken from the freezing temperature. In the play of the same name, Mr. Hale, a neighbor to the Wright's makes a similar comment, "Well, women are used to worrying over trifles."

With such an attitude, the men decide that there is nothing in the kitchen which would be instrumental in solving the crime. So, they leave the women there and go upstairs to the bedroom where Mr. Wright was killed and search for evidence. While the two women wait in the kitchen, the neighbor of the wife accused woman, Mrs. Hale, talks to the sheriff's wife, relating how the former Minnie Foster was in the choir at church and loved music and being around other people, but here on the farm she has been isolated for years without even a phone. Further Mrs. Hale realizes by noting the dirty towel, and other details of the kitchen that Mrs. Wright was probably depressed and no longer interested in cleaning and such. Then, the women notice a quilt that Mrs. Wright had been working on that has some erratic stitching in sharp contrast to the neat stitches that are prevalent throughout the rest of the quilt. Finally, Mrs. Hale opens a cupboard and discovers a fancy box that contains a dead canary with its neck wrung. The two women look at each other with immediate comprehension of why Mr. Wright was strangled. These trifles of the erratic stitching (She may have been quilting when she heard the commotion upstairs as he husband opened the bird cage and strangled the canary) and the dead bird found in the insignificant room of the kitchen are clearly motives. But, the women hide this evidence from the men when they come downstairs because of their sympathy for Mrs. Wright and partly because the men have insulted them, thus profoundly affecting the outcome of the sheriff's investigation.