Was the murder justified in Trifles? Why do the women conceal the evidence? 

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The murder was justified if Mrs. Wright killed her husband in self-defense.

It is always difficult to say what justifies one person killing another, but there is evidence that Mrs. Wright might have killed her husband in self-defense.  First of all, she seems to have been in shock when she was found.  Second, we know that he killed her bird.  That indicates that he was violent.  If the women covered up evidence because they believed that she killed him in self-defense, it makes their actions make much more sense.

She was rockin’ back and forth. She had her apron in her hand and was kind of—pleating it.

Mrs. Wright seems unaware of her surroundings and barely able to answer questions when she is found and questioned.  Her repetitive behavior and odd affect might show that she is still in shock from being attacked.

The women compare Mrs. Wright to a bird.  They find the bird with a snapped neck.  When discussing the dead bird, it seems obvious what happened to it.

MRS. PETERS (moving uneasily). We don’t know who killed the bird.

MRS. HALE. I knew John Wright.

Although it may not be as obvious that he was rough with her, the women talk about how she was isolated on the farm, and never left it any more.  She used to be active and social, and after she was married she was alone.  Her husband choked the life out of her, figuratively, just like he did with that bird.  It is not much of a stretch to assume he might have lost his temper and attacked her, and she defended herself. 

There is evidence of Mrs. Wright’s terror everywhere in the house, and evidence of Mr. Wright’s temper there too.  Clearly, it seems, the women think that he snapped and attacked her, and she snapped and killed him.  So, it was self-defense.  They decide to clean up the evidence that implicates her.

The men in this story do not understand what is really going on, because they do not understand what Mrs. Wright went through.  The women look at the evidence that the men do not see, and come to a conclusion that the men do not.