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Laughter is primarily something that is used to highlight the ignorance and the arrogance of the men in this excellent short story. We are presented with a murder site and a group of bumbling men who try to work out a possible motive from it. However, it is the women, who are variously ignored, humoured and patronised by the men, who, through their unique insight into the world of kitchens, sewing and preserving, are able to work out the motive and thus hide it, protecting Minnie Wright from conviction. One example of their knowledge, which of course is completely ignored by the men, is the quilt that Minnie Wright had started. As Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters talk about whether she was going to quilt or knot it, the men walk in. Note there response:
"They wonder whether she was going to quilt it or just knot it!"
There was a laugh for the ways of women, a warming of hands over the stove, and then the county attorney said briskly, "Well, let's go right out to the barn and get that cleared up."
The central irony of the story is that the men, whilst they are so intent on trying to investigate the scene and find the motive, actually overlook the evidence that is right beneath their noses and laugh at the women and their knowledge which makes them successful where they fail. Thus laughter could be said to underline the male arrogance and patriarchy that is such a central theme of this story.
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