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A Jury of Her Peers

by Susan Glaspell

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What does the quilt symbolize in "A Jury of Her Peers"?

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In "A Jury of Her Peers," the quilt symbolizes the solidarity of women. Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale correct the mistakes Minnie made in her final stitches and then correct the likely outcome of a flawed legal system in order to protect her.

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The quilt comes to symbolize the solidarity of women in "A Jury of Her Peers."

When the group investigating the murder scene passes by the quilt, Mrs. Peters stops to admire it. Tenderly touching it, she comments on its beauty, which is a compliment to Minnie's talents. Mrs. Hale asks whether Minnie might have been planning to finish the quilt by knotting it or by quilting it, which the sheriff finds preposterous. He makes a snide comment about the insignificance of the question as he throws up his hands in exasperation. His attitude demonstrates the way the talents and work of women are often dismissed by men.

Minnie had seemingly been working on the quilt when her husband pushed her too far. Privately, the women notice that her stitching is beautiful until the final stitches; in that spot, it looks like Minnie might have been distracted, unable to focus on her work. Mrs. Hale immediately begins removing those stitches to correct the mistakes.

When the women realize that Minnie has almost certainly killed her husband because of his foul character and the likely abuse she has endured, they decide to again correct her mistakes. When the attorney flippantly asks if the women have decided whether Minnie planned to quilt or knot the quilt to finish it (his voice indicating that quilting is not a "serious thing"), Mrs. Hale quickly answers that Minnie was going to knot it. The women divert attention from all evidence which might implicate Minnie, bonding in solidarity to protect her from a legal system that is not constructed to protect her. The quilt therefore serves as a symbol of this bond.

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