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A Jury of Her Peers

by Susan Glaspell

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What genre is "A Jury of Her Peers"?

"A Jury of Her Peers" belongs to the mystery genre. The short story's central conflict involves the suspicious death of John Wright, who has been found dead in his home. His wife claims that she was not awakened when the murder occurred.

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"A Jury of Her Peers" best fits into the mystery literary genre. The generating circumstance is the untimely and highly suspicious death of John Wright, who has been found dead in his bed with a rope around his neck. Minnie, his wife, claims that she always sleeps soundly and therefore hadn't awakened when the murderer had come in and killed her husband in his sleep.

As the sheriff and the county attorney investigate the Wright home for evidence that will likely implicate Minnie in her husband's death, the women are asked to stay behind and keep an eye out for evidence. Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale begin to construct the story of Minnie's life through the details in her home. The tone becomes increasingly tense as they realize that Minnie's clothes were threadbare and that her bird is dead, its head twisted sharply to the side. Mrs. Hale confesses that she never visited Minnie because John's temperament was cold and unsocial. These clues begin to build the backstory that Minnie has endured the abuses of her husband for twenty years.

The murder investigation reaches its climax when the county attorney returns just as the truth of Minnie's silent retribution becomes clear to Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale. For a moment, there is great uncertainty about where the loyalties of the women will fall—with the men, who seek to uphold the law, or with Minnie, whose pain will never be understood by a jury of twelve men.

The men are therefore unable to collect any evidence to definitively convict Minnie. She has been judged by a jury of her true peers—two women who understand her motives—who therefore justify her actions. The mystery is thereby resolved, and Minnie presumably goes free.

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