In Susan Glaspell’s short story “A Jury of Her Peers ,” the murder of John Wright is being investigated by Sheriff Peters. He brings along Mr. Hale, a neighboring farmer, and George Henderson, the county attorney, to go through the Wright house looking for evidence. Their wives come...
In Susan Glaspell’s short story “A Jury of Her Peers,” the murder of John Wright is being investigated by Sheriff Peters. He brings along Mr. Hale, a neighboring farmer, and George Henderson, the county attorney, to go through the Wright house looking for evidence. Their wives come along to see what is going on and end up cleaning the kitchen and picking up around the house.
Before the story begins, John’s wife, Minnie, is already the suspect. Hale, who discovered John, explains to the sheriff when he arrived at the Wright house Minnie was acting strange, and when he pressed her, she finally responded that he couldn’t see John “Cause he's dead.” Not sure how to handle this information, he presses her further and reports she told him John “died of a rope around his neck.” Minnie is emotionless as she tells about her deceased husband; Hale remembers that she “just went on pleatin' at her apron" while talking to him. Because she’s the only one at the house, and so unmoved by the event, everyone assumes that she killed her husband.
As the men search through the house, they do not find any evidence, but the women, who spend time paying attention to the details, find the needed proof. As they enter the house, the men mock the small messes left behind and her concerns over her preserves. As they look around, the women begin to put together the true story of Minnie Wright. They notice that all of her clothes were worn and old because John wouldn’t let her buy new ones and that he was a “hard man” to live with.
The hard evidence comes when they notice a birdcage with no bird in it. They wonder if a cat got it or if it flew away. They realize the door’s hinge is pulled apart.
Looks as if someone must have been—rough with it.
As they put away Minnie’s sewing materials, they find the bird in her box—it had been strangled. When they found the dead bird, they knew what happened in the Wright House.
And then again the eyes of the two women met—this time clung together in a look of dawning comprehension, of growing horror. Mrs. Peters looked from the dead bird to the broken door of the cage. Again their eyes met.
The men notice the empty cage, but the women lie and say the cat must have gotten to the bird. Mrs. Peters reminds Mrs. Hale, “of course we don't know who killed the bird,” but the two know John’s tendencies and believe he killed the bird, the only thing Minnie loved, and so Minnie killed John.