illustration of a dead bird lying within a black box

A Jury of Her Peers

by Susan Glaspell

Start Free Trial

In the story "A Jury of Her Peers," why is the method in which the husband has been murdered so important? (Consider the strength and sudden emotion required to accomplish such a murder.)

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The husband has been strangled by a rope that was circled around his neck. The method in which he has been killed is important because it shows that Mrs. Wright, the dead man's wife, was the likely perpetrator of the crime and that she was enraged and acted in an impulsive manner. She was likely overcome with anger and this allowed her to overpower her husband and circle a rope around his neck. Even if he had been asleep when she slipped the rope over his neck, he would have woken up and fought back, but she overpowered him, fueled by anger.

Later, the neighboring women find Mrs. Wright's bird dead in its cage; someone killed it by breaking its neck. The crimes are parallel. Mr. Wright likely snapped the bird's neck, and his wife, enraged, probably tried to kill him in the same way her pet had been killed. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In "A Jury of Her Peers," a fictionalized version of a true ax murder, the method of murder is important because Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, who make the discovery of the dead canary, are able to determine the motive for Mr. Wright's murder as clearly belonging to his wife.

    The method of murder against Mr. Wright in Glaspell's story is strangulation. According to Mr. Hale, a neighbor of the Wrights, Mrs. Wright told him when he came over the day following the murder that her husband "... died of a rope around his neck." Then she looked at Mr. Hale with a frightened look. 
    It is not until Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters discover the hidden box in the kitchen that contains a canary which has had its neck wrung that they know the motive for the murder. The two women stare at each other in comprehension and horror. For, it must have been a very angry Mrs. Wright who slipped a rope around her husband's neck and was able to choke him. After her husband killed the only thing that brought her any joy, Mrs. Wright must have had a great deal of adrenaline flowing through her as she was enraged that her bird, the only thing that she could love and that could bring her joy, would be strangled.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial