In my opinion the image of the preserved jars that would burst if the house got too cold is symbolic of the emotionless hard spousal life, which led Mrs. Wright to "burst" and kill her husband....

In my opinion the image of the preserved jars that would burst if the house got too cold is symbolic of the emotionless hard spousal life, which led Mrs. Wright to "burst" and kill her husband. What do you think?

Asked on by ummnawaf

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

This is a very good assessment of the symbolism of the jars in A Jury of her Peers. 

The play based on the same story, Trifles, also points to the fact that when the Sheriff and the district attorney were looking around the house the day of the murder clues such as the jars, the condition of the kitchen, the stitching, and many other obvious cues went amiss simply because Minnie is a woman and the investigators took all of her behaviors for granted. 

Yet, these "trifles", as they called them, were figured out by two clever women who realized that Minnie Wright was a victim of terrible spousal abuse. The Sheriff's wife herself, Mrs. Peters, and John Hale's wife, were able to put the clues together and realize that Minnie Wright had snapped and killed her husband.

The house was already cold because it was winter time. As you correctly state, Minnie was concerned that the temperatures may shift and cause the compote jars to burst 

 "She worried about that when it turned so cold last night. She said the fire would go out and her jars might burst."

Hence, there is a definite connection between the state of the jars, the temperature of the house, the overall atmosphere permeating in the home, and Minnie's mental state.

Moreover, aside from the symbolism of her own inner conflict, Minnie Wright is a woman in constant fear. The consequences of the compotes bursting may have resulted in her being hit and abused by her husband as well. Yet, this is secondary to the actual symbolism, which is that she could no longer contain the anger that the husband brought to her life. 

Also, remember the pivotal factor that led her to "explode": the dead canary that showed up with its neck wrung. Minnie had this canary as her only companion for a while. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters noticed the patterns of the bird's cage, its hinged door, and then discovered the small burial that Minnie gave the bird in the form of a box stuffed inside a drawer with the bird inside. It is clear that Minnie's husband's abuse extended to the killing of Minnie's only companion: the canary. When she saw her last hope gone, she simply lost herself in despair. 

Conclusively, the atmosphere in the Wright household was very disparate and chaotic. Anything would set off Mr. Wright, and it would have led to abusing Minnie. That Minnie is concerned about anything "blowing up" is very indicative of her own state of mind. 

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