Susan Glaspell’s short story “A Jury of Her Peers” contains several themes surrounding gender roles. The story centers on Minnie Wright, a housewife who is accused of killing her husband. As the story unfolds, the men of the town search the house for proof of her guilt, while the women realize she’s been abused by her husband and killed him out of self-defense.
The different reactions to the murder represent the different roles men and women often play in society. The men, upon arrival, quickly ignore the kitchen, the room most associated with women, and quickly move upstairs to gather evidence.
"Nothing here but kitchen things," he said, with a little laugh for the insignificance of kitchen things.
They mock Minnie’s concerns over her canning ("Well, can you beat the women! Held for murder, and worrying about her preserves!"), wondering how she could be worried over such a minute issue while facing death charges. Clearly, the men do not recognize the work of a woman as actual work. It is the women who are able to find the evidence proving Minnie’s guilt. They recognize her worn clothes as a sign of her husband’s stinginess. They reminisce that neither of them had visited Minnie over the past twenty years because they were afraid of her husband’s temper. When they notice her birdcage is empty, and then her dead bird, strangled in almost the same way her husband was, they realize that she was the one who killed Harry.
"But, Mrs. Peters!" cried Mrs. Hale. "Look at it! Its neck—look at its neck! It's all—other side to."
She held the box away from her.
The sheriff's wife again bent closer.
"Somebody wrung its neck," said she, in a voice that was slow and deep.
They hide the bird from the men, who give up when they realize they have no evidence.
In the story, the men mock their wives and ignore what they consider to be trivial details. Even though Minnie did commit the crime, by ignoring the details and the women, they miss the needed evidence to convict her.