illustration of a dead bird lying within a black box

A Jury of Her Peers

by Susan Glaspell

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What happened to Mrs. Wright's bird in "A Jury of Her Peers"?

Quick answer:

Mrs. Wright's bird has been killed by her husband. The door to the birdcage is broken, and the bird's neck has been wrung.

Expert Answers

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In “A Jury of Her Peers,” Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters discover a broken birdcage as they look around the Wright home for clues about why Minnie Wright might have killed her husband.

The birdcage's door is hanging loose, like someone had pulled it open violently, and there is no sign of the bird. Mrs. Hale recalls that Minnie Wright once loved to sing, so she is not surprised that Minnie would enjoy the company of a singing canary. She wonders if the cat got the bird, but Mrs. Peters says that Minnie didn't have a cat and that she was afraid of them. The women look closely at the cage, and when they see the state of it, their eyes meet in questioning and apprehension.

As the two women continue to look around and gather up some of Minnie's sewing to take to her in jail, they find the dead canary. The bird's neck has been wrung, and Minnie has wrapped its little body in a piece of silk. The women know now what happened and why. Mr. Wright's violent killing of the bird was the last straw for Minnie. The little canary was her companion, and her husband had taken even that from her. She meant to bury it but had not yet done so, so the incident must have happened recently, perhaps even a day or two before Mr. Wright's death. Mrs. Hale can understand Minnie's grief, for she recalls what she felt when a boy brutally killed her kitten. If people hadn't held her back, she says, she would have hurt him.

Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters do not tell the men about their discovery. They would laugh anyway, and they would not understand. Mrs. Hale puts the bird in her pocket. The men can find a motive for themselves.

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