The crisis of the story arises when Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters make a surprising discovery in Mrs. Wright's home.
Mrs. Wright has been arrested on suspicion of the murder of her husband and is being held in the jail. The women come to gather some things to take to their neighbor while she is being held.
In a kitchen cupboard, they discover an empty birdcage. In Mrs. Wright's sewing basket, they discover the body of a dead canary, wrapped as if Mrs. Wright had intended to bury it. The bird seems to have been killed intentionally. While they women believed Mr. Wright to be a cold, cheerless man, when they realize that it was probably his hand that killed the bird, they come to the immediate and chilling conclusion that Mrs. Wright probably did kill her husband for destroying the one beautiful thing in her life.
The crisis, then, arises from their knowledge of what probably took place, and the choice they must make about what to do with their discovery.
Because the men investigating the house for clues have been so dismissive about the sacrifices women make to keep a house running and take care of their families, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters become resentful of the men who so casually brush aside a woman's homemaking endeavors and related worries as "trifles."
With a growing sense of camaraderie for their neighbor who they did not know well enough, but whose suffering they can now understand, the women choose to say nothing of their discovery, drawing a very real dividing line between the concerns of the men and their world, and the reality of a woman's existence at the hands of men.