In Susan Glaspell's "A Jury of Her Peers," what traits of a sheriff's wife was Mrs. Peters lacking?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is no rubric or pre-designed behavioral profile that is expected of sheriffs' wives to follow. To be fair to Mrs. Peters, she is a pretty well-rounded and dynamic character throughout the story. She also reunites other character traits that can be found upon a closer reading of the story.

  • loyalty to her husband - Mrs. Peters abides by her husband's request that she takes care of the needs of Minnie Wright while the latter is in jail, as such a task would appear to be demeaning for the male-dominated county investigators
  • loyalty to her gender - she tends to Minnie's needs and, along with Mrs. Hale, makes sure incriminating evidence is concealed
  • compassion - even though she is on the scene collecting items and sort of "working for" Minnie, a woman jailed for potentially having killed her husband in a cruel way, she realizes the circumstances of the killing were not normal to the woman and that something else may be behind all of this
  • vulnerability - Mrs. Peters has a hard shell at first, and does not let the reader into her internal struggles. By the end, she opens up about her loses, fears, and pain. It is then when we find the soft side of Mrs. Peters. 

Mrs. Peters is married to a man whose career hardens the softest of men, but she remains genuinely aware of her shortcomings and issues. Her husband being an officer of the law does not mean she has to be one, too. She does not lack any traits necessary to be a good wife. She has plenty of good traits.

The only thing that is a bit surprising is that she connects so well to Minnie, to the point of offering sensitive information about the investigation to Mrs. Hale. Upon reading further into the details of her life, readers realize Mrs. Peters had her share of pain and suffering and can certainly excuse her connection to Minnie.