How is "A Jury of Her Peers" interpretive literature?

Expert Answers
M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As the term implies, “interpretive” literature aims to analyze and help the reader understand the nature of characters through their behavior choices and emotions. It is different than typical literature in that the information that the reader gets from the author is entirely purposeful. This means that, rather than give us details for the mere sake of escapism or entertainment, the clues given have deep meaning that helps to correlate one action and another, as the story unfolds.

“A Jury of Her Peers” is deeply analytical and interpretive. This is because, throughout the story, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters continuously find clues and hints around the house of accused husband murderer Minnie Wright that keep pointing at something sinister taking place in the household; something much more sinister than just a killing made by a mad woman.

As the story progresses, the clues that Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters find are correlated to other key facts. For example, Minnie’s messy household, her frozen compotes, and the overall state of the place are often described right after something else related to Minnie, her married life, or her husband, John. We learn, from the clues that the women produce, that John Wright was a cold, hard man. We also learn that Minnie was a playful, artistic and charismatic woman who essentially disappeared into isolation once she became John Wright’s wife. It is this way that the reader unfolds the chaos that was brewing in the mind of Minnie.

The sewing," said Mrs. Peters, in a troubled way, "All the rest of them have been so nice and even--but--this one. Why, it looks as if she didn't know what she was about!

Therefore, readers are allowed to make similar interpretations of Minnie’s behavior. They get to learn that the woman was isolated and lonely. It is also clear that Minnie, considering that she lived alone with John, still did not have the mindset to keep her household organized. Was it a vicious cycle of abuse and abandonment? The canary, the canary’s cage, the force with which the door of the cage was broken, the wrung neck of the bird, and the ultimate act by Minnie are also easy to correlate: Minnie’s most precious possession, the canary, was killed by John along with everything else in her being.

Mrs. Hale had not moved. "If there had been years and years of--nothing, then a bird to sing to you, it would be awful--still--after the bird was still."

All of these facts are indicative of an interpretive piece of literature. We are not just reading facts and taking them at face value; we are making correlations, connecting facts, and reaching conclusions.