In Trifles, why did Minnie kill her husband and the bird?

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In the play Trifles, Minnie murdered her husband because of his cruel and abusive nature. She did not murder the canary, and the assumption is that her husband carried out that travesty.

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In the play Trifles, Minnie actually kills her husband because he killed her bird. The bird, a canary, meant everything to Minnie, so when her husband broke its neck, she got mad and in a fit of rage, killed him.

Minnie has been the victim of domestic abuse for...

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some time. She'd been able to put up with a lot from her abusive husband, John, but his killing of her precious pet canary proved to be the last straw. The bird was just about the only good thing Minnie had left in her life, and so its violent death at the hands of her husband tipped her over the edge.

And yet the men investigating John's death don't realize just how much the canary meant to Minnie. This helps to explain why County Attorney Henderson doesn't pay much attention to the damaged birdcage. He just assumes that the bird has flown. And when Mrs. Hale tells him that the cat must have got it, it's clear he isn't paying much attention:

(preoccupied). Is there a cat?

The very idea that Minnie could've killed her husband over a canary, a mere trifle, simply doesn't occur to the men. As Mrs. Peters says to Mrs. Hale,

My, it's a good thing the men couldn'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!

But Mrs. Hale isn't taking any chances. As she says under her breath,

Maybe they would—maybe they wouldn't.

In other words, the men might well laugh about the idea that a dead canary had something to do with John's death, but then again they might not. Far better not to take a chance; far better to hide the evidence from the men, even if they'd almost certainly regard it as a trifle.

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In Susan Glaspell's one-act play Trifles, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters arrive at the Wright homestead alongside their husbands to gather several of Minnie's belongings while she sits in jail for the murder of her husband. As Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters's husbands conduct their investigation, the women discover several important clues which reveal Minnie's motive. The women examine her unusually untidy kitchen, take note of Minnie's erratic stitching, discover a broken birdcage, and find a dead canary in Minnie's sewing box. Once the women discover the dead canary, they are convinced that Minnie's husband broke its neck, which was the final straw that motivated her to take his life.

As the women carry out their informal investigation, Mrs. Hale reveals that Minnie dramatically changed after marrying John Wright, who was a callous, abusive man. Minnie stopped singing in the choir, stopped dressing in bright colors, and experienced a secluded, difficult life on the farm. The women sympathize with Minnie's oppressive marriage, and Mrs. Peters understands what it is like to have a beloved pet threatened or killed. Mrs. Peters also lost her children while living in the desolate Dakota countryside and is aware of the pain and loneliness Minnie felt. After the women analyze the "trifles," they recognize that Minnie killed her husband to escape her abusive, oppressive marriage. Once John killed her beloved canary, Mrs. Wright could not contain her rage and murdered him in his sleep. Although murder is never justified, the women sympathize with Minnie and decide to conceal the important clues.

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Minnie herself does not get to answer the question of why she killed her husband. It is left to her friends, Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale, to deduce her motives and share them with the audience of this great play.

In a nutshell, it would appear that John Wright was a cruel and abusive husband and that Minnie saw killing him as her only way out. Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale find a number of clues which point to Mr. Wright's cruelty, such as the realization that Minnie no longer wears pretty clothes because her husband didn't like it. The factors pointing to Minnie's unhappiness with her husband included bread left out to get stale, a half-cleaned table, and erratic stitching in a quilt. The final straw is the discovery of a dead canary, which the ladies assume was killed by John. This is the final discovery, and from everything the ladies have seen, they consider it likely that John's murder of the innocent canary was the final straw that made Mrs. Wright snap and decide to murder her husband.

To answer the second part of your question, the ladies find it unlikely that Minnie murdered her beloved pet canary. The general consensus is that her husband was the one who killed the bird.

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The canary symbolizes Minnie. Her marriage becomes her cage, and in killing the canary, her husband kills a part of her as well as the only thing left in her life that gave her beauty and pleasure.  Only Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale appreciate the significance of the canary and the grueling, lonely life Minnie led with her husband, and this reasoning leads them to understand also that Minne kills her husband with her sewing scissors in retribution for his cruelty..  When they say at the end of the play “knot it,” they seem to answer the question the men ask (condescendingly) about Minnie’s quilting, but in reality pronounce Minnie “not guilty” for her crime because they empathize with her so completely.

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Minnie doesn't kill the bird; her husband does. Minnie had bought the canary to keep her company because she was so lonely on the farm. When she married her husband, John, she was a pretty young girl who liked to socialize. John moved her to a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere and changed her life forever. John had a bad temper and probably killed the bird because he got mad at Minnie for some trivial thing and punished her by killing the only thing she had in her life. This was probably the "last straw" for Minnie and what led her to kill her husband. During their years of marriage, Minnie wasn't allowed to socialize with anyone, they never had any visitors, and she never left the house. They never had children. The canary was the only thing she had to help her feel better about being isolated from the world.

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