Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters end up protecting Minnie Wright by hiding the strangled canary, which could be used as key evidence against her in her murder trial. Although Mrs. Peters is the sheriff's wife and "married to the law," she comes to the same conclusion as Mrs. Hale, Mrs. Wright's neighbor. Each woman has her own reason for sympathizing with Mrs. Wright and ultimately acting on her behalf.
Mrs. Hale knew Mrs. Wright many years previous to the day of the story--when she was Minnie Foster. Mrs. Hale remembers Minnie as being a bright and cheerful woman before her marriage, one who enjoyed singing in the choir. When Mrs. Hale realizes how lonely Mrs. Wright was in her marriage to the taciturn John Wright, and realizes with regret that she never visited Minnie or befriended her, she feels somewhat responsible for what has happened. Putting two and two together, understanding that Mr. Wright must have wrung the bird's neck, it dawns on Mrs. Hale that Mr. Wright "killed" the music and joy in his wife by his harsh and abusive actions.
Mrs. Peters is particularly won over to Minnie's defense when she sees the dead canary. She remembers a time in her childhood when a boy killed tortured a pet cat of hers with a hatchet, and how she would have harmed the boy if she could have. She also remembers how silent her house was after the death of her oldest child and commiserates with Minnie having had to live in the quiet, joyless house, made all the more somber after Mr. Wright killed the singing bird. Thus even though neither woman was a friend of Mrs. Wright's, they feel solidarity with her, either because of regret or empathy.