Susan Glaspell uses several powerful symbols in her short story "A Jury of Her Peers." When the attorney washes his hands in the kitchen sink, he remarks on the dirty roller towel, but Mrs. Hale defends the housewife, noting how much work there is to do on a farm and blaming the dirt on "men's hands." The roller towel is a symbol of the drudgery of Mrs. Wright's life in the farmhouse: Her job is to clean up after her husband every day in a revolving fashion, just like the roller towel presents a fresh portion of towel that Mr. Wright would only come in and soil again.
Similarly, the broken bird cage is a symbol of Mrs. Wright's imprisonment by her husband. The fact that the door of the cage appears to be violently broken suggests that the abuse she suffered included physical, not just emotional, abuse.
The quilt squares symbolize Mrs. Wright's deteriorating emotional state. While most of the squares had neat and even stitching, one had messy and uneven sewing, indicating her distress, probably after Mr. Wright killed the canary. The multiple references to the knots of the quilt create a link to the noose that Mrs. Wright used to execute her husband.
The quilt squares also represent "trifles," as do the jars of preserves. The men mock the women for being concerned about "trifles," but the patient, self-sacrificing love and care that housewives put into their work is not insignificant. Neither is the mental acuity that the women possess that allows them to solve the case when the pompous policeman and attorney cannot.
Finally, the fact that all the jars of preserves except one were broken by freezing is a symbol that Mrs. Wright's life will be "preserved" by the friendship of the women who appreciate her as a beautiful and worthy woman who was abused by a cruel and domineering husband.