Where are Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters in Trifles when Mr. Hale explains the murder discovery, and what does it suggest about gender relationships in the play?

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In Trifles, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters remain in the cold near the door while Mr. Hale explains how the crime was discovered. This demonstrates a gender dynamic in which the men consider themselves to be superior to the women and the women accept the roles that the men have given them.

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In the one-act play Trifles by Susan Glaspell , Mr. Hale tells the story of the murder discovery to the county attorney George Henderson and Sheriff Henry Peters. The women have accompanied the men to the remote farmhouse for the investigation into the murder of John Wright, but they are...

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not initially involved.

As the play opens, the three men go straight to the stove, which is already warm, having been started earlier by the Sheriff's assistant Frank. The two women, however, remain together by the door, even though it is colder there.

Mr. Hale relates how he stopped by the farmhouse with his son Harry while they were on their way to town with some potatoes. He wanted to ask Mr. Wright about installing a party phone line. Mrs. Wright was sitting alone in a rocking chair, and she told Mr. Hale that her husband was dead upstairs. Mr. Hale and his son Harry went upstairs and found Mr. Wright dead with a rope around his neck.

All the time that Mr. Hale gives the long explanation of what he and his son observed on their previous visit to the farmhouse, the women remain standing by the door. They do not move farther into the room until the sheriff says "Nothing here but kitchen things" and the county attorney opens a cupboard and finds a sticky mess of broken jars of preserved fruit. When Mr. Hale says that "women are used to worrying over trifles," the women move closer to each other again, as if in defense. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters do not begin to move freely around the room until the men have gone upstairs and they are alone.

From the way that the men stride straight into the room to the stove while the women linger by the door, it is evident that the men have a condescending relationship toward the women. The men consider the women to be inferiors whose places are in the running of households and nowhere else. The women are aware that the men feel this way, and they are so used to their roles that they habitually fall into them. They only step further into the room when a household issue, the freezing and breaking of Mrs. Wright's preserved fruit, comes up, and they only feel free to move about and converse with each other when the men have left.

We see, then, that the location of the women at the beginning of Trifles signifies the gender roles that they play and their relationships with the men as supposed inferiors. The irony in the play Trifles is that despite the fact that the women are regarded as inferiors, they are the ones who find the evidence that the men have been searching for and decide not to share it so they can protect Mrs. Wright.

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In the play Trifles, where are Mrs Hale and Mrs Peters while Mr Hale explains to the county attorney how the murder was discovered? How does their location suggest the relationship between the men and the women in the play?

The play Trifles starts out in the kitchen of the Wright residence, where the entire party has gathered to try to make sense of what has just taken place. The man of the house, a farmer named John Wright, had just been killed in his sleep, presumably, by his wife, Minnie. Minnie is being held in custody. Meanwhile, witness John Hale, his wife, Sheriff Peters and his wife, and the county attorney, are there looking for clues to the case. 

The setting where the case is looked over is described in a very telling manner:

The kitchen in the now abandoned farmhouse of John Wright, a gloomy kitchen, and left without having been put in order--unwashed pans under the sink, a loaf of bread outside the bread-box, a dish-towel on the table--other signs of incompleted work.

From what we can gather, there is a lot of activity that takes place in the kitchen. It has pots and pans everywhere. People eat there every day. The dishes are also done there. This place seems to be the hover point of the household. Yet, in the case of the Wrights, this very high-traffic area is abandoned and left in chaos. The description is indicative of a similarly chaotic everyday dynamic taking place in there. 

After introducing us to the kitchen area, in comes the Sheriff, Hale, and the country attorney entering from the rear. They all go straight to the stove, for it is cold outside. The wives follow. While the men stick together, and warm up to one another even before going to the stove, the women remain behind, near the door. 

This is telling of the huge division between the two parties.

According to Beverly Smith in her article "Women's Work--Trifles? The Skill and Insights of Playwright Susan Glaspell" published in the International Journal of Women's Studies (March 1982, p. 172-184) this particular part of the scene is very telling

While the men always seem to work in packs, deal with each other in familiar terms, and protect one another, the women stay behind, merely observing. In fact, the women do not acknowledge one another, at first. They just stand silently in the back.

Then, as the men start making sarcastic comments about Minnie Wright's disordered kitchen, and her potential lack of housekeeping skills, the women surprisingly stand next to one another, still silent, and still not quite communicating...yet.

Granted, it will be seen that the women will have the same ability to protect one another and watch each other's backs, however, they do not do it as visibly as males do. It is a question of social behavior, more so than psychology alone. 

Once the two women get to speak, they continue to address one another by their formal, married titles "Mrs. Hale" and "Mrs. Peters". As such, they do not only deductively conclude what actually took place in the house, but they are now doing their best to ensure that the details of the crime--the cues that are all over the house and the men aren't able to discern--never reach the men.  

Still, it is very telling that, within the parameters of formality and social distance, the women are capable of sharing much more insight, and more honest and truthful information, than the men will ever be capable of sharing. 

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