Which innocuous, everyday details add up to murder in the play Trifles?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are several innocuous details in the kitchen of the desolate farmhouse that suggest there was something that bothered Mrs. Wright.
Here are some of these details:

  • When Mr. Hale stopped on his way to town to find out if Mr. Wright wanted to go in with him on a party telephone line, he discovered Mrs. Wright sitting oddly rocking back and forth as she nervously pleated her apron with her fingers.
  • Mrs. Wright seemed distracted, almost disorientated when she is questioned about the whereabouts of her husband. 
  • In jail she is worried about her jelly; she asks for her shawl and, oddly, an apron.
  • The towels are dirty in the kitchen
  • She had bread set and was going to put it in the oven.
  • She had been piecing a quilt.
  • The sewing on the quilt in one play is erratic as though Mrs. Wright were nervous
  • Mrs. Peters finds a bird-cage. One hinge on it is pulled apart.
  • Mrs. Hale finds a songbird in a pretty red box; the bird is dead from a wrung neck. (This last detail is not innocuous when taken together with others; however if taken separately, it might seem inconsequential.)
Read the study guide:
Trifles

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