Why is the dead bird a significant piece of evidence in Trifles?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Susan Glaspell's Trifles, the little dead bird is significant for these reasons:

  1. The bird's neck has been wrung just as the neck of Mr. Wright has had a rope tied around it, choking him to death just as the bird died.
  2. Mrs. Hale recalls how Mrs. Wright used to be in the choir when she was young.  But, recently, she says that since Mrs. Wright has lived with the stern and reclusive Mr. Wright in such a "lonesome place," Mrs. Wright has not been herself. 
  3. The little canary is symbolic of the deeply sensitive soul of Mrs. Wright who used to sing when it was happy.
  4. When the women discover the dead canary, they understand the meaning of the bread outside the breadbox, the frantic and uneven stiches in the cloth, and the partially cleaned table.  Mrs. Wright has lost her music, the only thing that has held her together.

It is all these seemingly trifling things that put together with the dead bird solve the question of motive for Mrs. Wright's murderous act.  As they hear the men approach, the women, in empathy for Mrs. Wright, hide the bird, the trifle that indicates motive. 

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