What are the exposition, conflict, antagonist, protagonist, complications, crisis, climax, and conclusion of A Jury of Her Peers?

Expert Answers
rmhope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"A Jury of Her Peers" is a story within a story. The main story is the real-time saga of Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters unraveling the mystery of Mr. Wright's death while their husbands, following the traditional route of male law enforcement and legal professionals, are unable to figure it out. The inside story is the flashback story of Minnie Foster Wright, the abuse she endured at the hands of her husband, and the murder she committed in "self-defense." Each story has its own story arc. (The story of Minnie Foster will be represented in italics.)

Exposition: On a cold morning in March, Mrs. Hale travels to the country home of her neighbor, Mrs. Wright, to keep the sheriff's wife, Mrs. Peters, company as they investigate the scene of Mr. Wright's apparent murder. Minnie Foster, a sweet young woman who loves to sing, marries Mr. Wright and moves into his farmhouse.

Conflict: Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters must decide whether they will submit to the patriarchal system of "justice" and assist the sheriff and county attorney in solving the murder or whether they will be loyal to a fellow farm wife who has been abused by her husband and who had no way out, partly because of lack of support from her female neighbors. For both Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, the conflict is "woman vs. herself." Minnie's conflict is with her abusive husband and a society that gives men control over women in day-to-day life as well as in the legal system.

Antagonist: For Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, their own consciences, the sheriff, the county attorney, and the legal system are antagonists. For Minnie, her husband and a social system that ignore her needs and safety are the antagonists.

Protagonist: Mrs. Hale is the main protagonist of the real-time story. Minnie is the protagonist of the story that is being reconstructed.

Complications: When Mrs. Hale begins to feel guilty for not having kept in touch with Minnie, and when Mrs. Peters recalls a boy hatcheting her pet kitten to death, the choice of whether to reveal the evidence they've found gets complicated. For Minnie, things became more complicated when Mr. Wright killed her pet canary--she may have begun to literally fear for her own safety when she saw the anger and cruelty of the man she was married to.

Crisis: A crisis that precedes the climax and tilts Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peter toward withholding the evidence could be the attorney and sheriff's condescending jokes made about the women. These are enough to convince the women that Minnie will not receive a fair trial in the hands of a male-dominated legal system just as she did not have a fair chance at life in the hands of her husband. For Minnie, the crisis may have occurred in her mind as she sat sewing the quilt pieces together and weighing her options--deciding her only way out was to kill her husband.

Climax: In the real-time story, the climax occurs when Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale meet eyes, both deciding, without speaking, that they must conceal the dead bird. For Minnie, the climax is tightening the noose around her husband's neck. 

Conclusion: In the real-time story, the conclusion is that the men are unable to find a piece of evidence that will conclusively convict Mrs. Wright of murder. In Minnie's story, the conclusion is the same.

mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Exposition: We follow Mrs. Hale from her kitchen to Mrs. Wright's kitchen.  We are introduced to the men and the focus of their murder investigation, and we are introduced to the women who are simply waiting around.

Conflict: It's two-fold.  First, it's woman vs. man in terms of Mrs. Wright's suspected murdering of Mr. Wright.  Then, its women vs. society in terms of the women's decision to investigate the crimes for themselves.

Antagonist: Psychologically, it's men and their patriarchal systems of justice.  Character-wise, it's Mr. Wright (pun intended).  He cages his wife, turning her from a song-bird to a passive domestic servant.

Protagonist: It's clearly Mrs. Hale.  The story begins with her, and it is her decision to convince the other women to suppress the evidence in the kitchen.  She is the story's feminist hero.

Complication/Crisis: The women uncover the dead bird and the frazzled sewing of Mrs. Wright.  This is subtle yet damning evidence that she committed the murder as revenge against his treatment of her and his killing of her bird.

Climax: Mrs. Hale's decision to suppress the evidence.

Conclusion: Mrs. Hale's convincing the other women to suppress the evidence as well, and the men not discovering any traces of evidence in the kitchen or on the faces of the women.