In "A Jury of Her Peers," why did the women choose to hide the evidence of finding the bird?

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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At first, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters are stunned, but soon they find reason to both empathize with their former classmate and friend, Minnie Foster (now Wright.)

As Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters talk, they feel guilty about ignoring Minnie; they always found some excuse to put off the visit. Her husband was cold and cruel and made the women feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. But as their conversation continues, the pair recall the Minnie of their youth. Mrs. Peters says, "She -- she was kind of like a bird herself. Real sweet and pretty, but kind of timid and fluttery. How -- she -- did -- change."

As the women watch the investigation, they realize just how isolated and mistreated Minnie had been during her marriage. Then Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters discover the dead bird:

" "Somebody wrung its neck," said she, in a voice that was slow and deep.

And then again the eyes of the two women met--this time clung together in a look of dawning comprehension, of growing horror. Mrs. Peters looked from the dead bird to the broken door of the cage. Again their eyes met."

They knew immediately that this was the event that pushed Minnie over the edge.

"She liked the bird," said Martha Hale, low and slowly. "She was going to bury it in that pretty box."

The two women, feeling compassion and comraderie, make the silent decision to hide the evidence.

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The play is called "Trifles" and the short story from which the play was written is called "A Jury of Her Peers".   In both titles, we get a glimpse of what the play is about--the women are Minnie's peers.  They are her equals...NOT the men.  The men all throughout the story tease and conjole the women about the small things they concern themselves with--the "trifles" of their lives.  For instance, the broken fruit jars, the messy kitchen, Minnie's choice of quilting or knotting the quilt she was working on.  They understand her and the life she has lead.  Therefore, they know her lonliness and isolation.  Without really discussing it, the women have come to an unspoken agreement that they might have done the same thing in Minnie's situation.  They concur that Minnie has not done anything for which she should be convicted, and they withhold the evidence.