What lines characterize Mrs. Hale's reaction to the men behavior? What lines characterize Mrs. Peter to the men early in the play?what lines show Mrs. Peter feelings change later in the play? what...

What lines characterize Mrs. Hale's reaction to the men behavior? What lines characterize Mrs. Peter to the men early in the play?

what lines show Mrs. Peter feelings change later in the play? what might account for both their initial differences and then their evolving solidarity with Mrs. Wright?

Really confused about this question..thanks for your help

Expert Answers
teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The following lines highlight how Mrs. Hale reacts to the men's behavior. Mrs. Hale is a little irritated that the men (county attorney George Henderson and sheriff Henry Peters) feel free to criticize Mrs. Wright's homemaking skills.

COUNTY ATTORNEY . . . Dirty towels! (kicks his foot against the pans under the sink) Not much of a housekeeper would you say, ladies? 

MRS. HALE (stiffly) There's a great deal of work to be done on a farm . . .

MRS. HALE Those towels get dirty awful quick. Men's hands aren't always as clean as they might be . . . 

MRS. HALE (crossing left to sink) I'd hate to have men coming into my kitchen, snooping around and criticizing (she arranges the pans under the sink, which the lawyer had shoved out of place) . . .

Meanwhile, the lines below comprise the sheriff and the county attorney's reactions to Mrs. Peters comments. The men scoff at what they consider Mrs. Peter's focus on minutiae. Mrs. Peters is saddened that Mrs. Wright's fruit jars broke, but the men think that, in light of the murder investigation, Mrs. Peter's focus is misplaced.

However, Mrs. Peters's comment highlights a deeper understanding of Mrs. Wright's difficult life than the men realize. The carefully preserved fruit represents Mrs. Wright's hard work. However, Mrs. Wright never got to taste the results of all her hard work: the jars broke because of the extreme cold. So, anyone who tried to sample some of the preserves might have found pieces of broken glass mixed in with the fruit preserves. 

MRS. PETERS (to the other woman) Oh, her fruit; it did freeze. (To the lawyer) She worried about that when it turned so cold. She said the fire'd go out and her jars would break.

SHERIFF (rises) Well, can you beat the woman! Held for murder and worryin' about her preserves.

COUNTY ATTORNEY (getting down from chair) I guess before we're through, she may have something more serious than preserves to worry about. (crosses down right center)

Although Mrs. Peter is adamant that the "law has got to punish crime," she later changes her viewpoint. Here are the lines that demonstrate this:

MRS. PETERS (with rising voice) We don't know who killed him. We don't know . . .

MRS. PETERS (something within her speaking) I know what stillness is. When we homesteaded in Dakota, and my first baby died—after he was two years old—and me with no other then . . . 

MRS. PETERS . . . My, it's a good thing the men coudn't hear us. Wouldn't they just laugh! Getting all stirred up over a little thing like a—dead canary. As if that could have anything to do with—with—wouldn't they laugh? . . .

Mrs. Peters's words show her dawning realization that the circumstances surrounding Mr. Wright's murder are more complicated than the men think. Although others may conclude that Mrs. Wright killed her husband out of malice, Mrs. Peter no longer entertains the notion. She has seen too much evidence of Mrs. Wright's unhappy life in the farmhouse to conclude that simple malice was the motive for the murder.

 

grouchysgirl eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mrs. Hale believes the men are looking for evidence to support a quick conviction.  They don't see that Mr. Wright may not have been a innocent victim.  Mrs. Hale reacts strongly to the county attorney when he attacks Mrs. Wright as a housewife.

COUNTY ATTORNEY  I shouldn't say she had the homemaking instinct.

MRS. HALE. Well, I don't know as Wright had, either.

COUNTY ATTORNEY. You mean that they didn't get on very well?

MRS. HALE. No, I don't mean anything. But I don't think a place'd be any cheerfuller for John Wright's being in it.

Here she's saying that the man of the house was not an easy person to live with.  She also reacts strongly when the men scorn her remarks about the quilt. 

MRS. HALE. I wonder if she was goin' to quilt or just knot it? (Footsteps have been heard coming down the stairs. The Sheriff enters, followed by Hale and the County Attorney.)

SHERIFF. They wonder if she was going to quilt it or just knot it. (The men laugh, the women look abashed.) ...

MRS. HALE (resentfully). I don't know as there's anything so strange, our takin' up our time with little things while we're waiting for them to get the evidence. (She sits down at the big table, smoothing out a block with decision.) I don't see as it's anything to laugh about.

What they don't realize is that she has discovered an important piece of evidence but because it is 'a trifle' they don't concern themselves with it.

Mrs. Peters is a true sheriff's wife.  She defends their actions when Mrs. Hale comments about the men critiquing her homemaking skills

MRS. PETERS. Of course it's no more than their duty.

and trying to turn Mrs. Wright's house against her

MRS. PETERS. But, Mrs. Hale, the law is the law.

She is the epitome of a dutiful wife.

That changes however with the discovery of the birdcage and the dead bird.  For Mrs. Peters, this brings back not only childhood memories but also memories from early on in her marriage.  These memories, along with Mrs. Hale's memroies of Mrs. Wright before she was married, begin to pull the two women into an unspoken agreement about the evidence they have found.  As the women begin to empathize more with Mrs. Wright's situation, they realize she could be responsible but that she may have already served her punishment, something the men would not understand.

Read the study guide:
Trifles

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