Well, the biggest question that the play begins with and is subsequently answered by Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, is what precisely happened to John Wright and who killed him. It is clear that the play begins with something of a mystery. Hale begins by narrating to the County Attorney and to the rest of the characters what happened when he came to the house and how he saw Minnie Wright sitting on the chair, looking "queer". She then tells Hale that Mr. Wright had died:
"He died of a rope around his neck," says she, and just went on pleatin' at her apron. Well, I went out and called Harry. I thought I might - need help. We went upstairs, and there he was - lying' -
Mrs. Wright then tells Hale the somewhat suspicious story that she did not know who killed her husband, and that she slept through the murder. The rest of the play presents the male characters' bumbling attempts to find out what happened, whilst the women, disparagingly dismissed by the menfolk, piece together the motive with ease and prove who the murderer was - only to hide the truth.