illustration of a dead bird lying within a black box

A Jury of Her Peers

by Susan Glaspell

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How was the bird killed in "A Jury of Her Peers"?

In "A Jury of Her Peers," the bird was killed by Mr. Wright, who wrung its neck in a fit of rage.

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The death of Mrs. Wright's canary is key to understanding why she murdered her husband. The men investigating the case are under pressure to find a motive that would allow them to construct a case against Minnie Wright, but they miss the evidence of the bird, along with other clues.

The women, however, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, take the time to carefully explore the kitchen rather than ignore this "woman's space." From the minor detail of finding that Minnie carefully preserved her dead canary, the two women are able to piece together the murder.

In addition to finding the canary, they find evidence that the door to its cage has been broken. They realize that Mr. Wright must have killed the bird in a fit of rage. They also know what it is like to be an isolated, overworked farm woman and thus have the empathy to understand how miserable Minne's life must have been. They recognize that Minnie must have snapped and killed her husband in retaliation for his own killing. This is borne out by the fact that Mr. Wright is found hanged: she must have broken his neck because he broke her beloved canary's neck.

The story shows that men in the criminal justice system have little understanding of the realities of a woman's life. The "jury" of Minnie's peers, however, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, find her innocent of wrongdoing and keep the evidence of the dead bird to themselves.

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