In Trifles, playwright Susan Glaspell provides background information about the Wrights' situation as well as the earlier experiences of the two main characters, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters. As the play begins, the male characters provide an overview of the mysteries surrounding John Wright's death in his own bedroom. The conversation among the County Attorney, the Sheriff, and Hale establishes the minimal information that is known so far and their purpose in coming to the Wrights' house.
The main source of background information is the two women. Although both now live in the community, their prior experiences have been very different. Mrs. Hale grew up in the town and has known Minnie Wright since childhood. She provides considerable perspective on what Minnie was like in her youth and the changes that she has undergone since marriage. The fact that Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Wright had grown apart is significant, as it helps establish the isolation that became typical of Minnie's life.
In contrast, Mrs. Peters—who is younger than Mrs. Hale and is married to the Sheriff—is a relative newcomer to the community. In the early years of their marriage, she and her husband had lived in a remote, isolated setting. She experienced the deep pain of losing a child. She feels a commonality with Mrs. Wright that gives her insight into the damaging effects of loneliness.
The fact that they have such different experiences proves instrumental to the women solving the mystery as well as deciding not to reveal their conclusions to the men. While one woman actually knew Minnie, the other was capable of understanding her psychological makeup.