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A Jury Of Her Peers;Women United

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Women United

The North wind is blowing in Dickson County on this cold, March morning, and in Susan Glaspell’s, “A Jury of Her Peers,” murder bring together a group of men and two women, with two separate agendas. The men’s group who includes: Mr. Hale; a witness, Mr. Peters; the sheriff, and Mr. Henderson; the county attorney are persistent in finding evidence to ensure a conviction of Minnie (Foster) Wright; wife of the victim, John Wright. However, the two women: Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, wives of two of the men, create a bond with each other and with the absent Mrs. Wright, and take it upon themselves to hide what they have uncovered to protect Minnie from being convicted of 1st degree murder, even though the evidence points towards her guilt.

The actual order of events began yesterday, when Mr. Hale and his oldest son, Harry stopped by the Wright’s place to talk to Mr. Wright about interest in getting a telephone, but instead of speaking with him, they speak to his wife; Minnie and learn that John Wright is dead! After getting no cooperation from Mrs. Wright, as she sat in her rocker, wringing her apron, Mr. Hale had Harry go and retrieve the authorities, which brings us today. “Martha! Don’t keep folks waiting out here in the cold,” said her husband with an impatient voice (Susan Glaspell 586). Martha Hale had to drop everything she was doing, leaving her kitchen in disarray, just so that she could accompany her husband to the scene of John Wrights’ death to keep the sheriff’s wife company; and to help collect some belongings for the accused Mrs. Wright. And so the investigation begins.

As everyone approached the Wright’s home, which sat back in a hollow surrounded by trees, the looks from the group were steady. Arriving at the doorstep proved to be disturbing for

both of the women and according to Victoria Adams, both women perceived themselves as intruders in the home of an absent woman:

“Even after she had her foot on the doorstep, her hand on the knob, Martha Hale had a moment of feeling she could not cross the threshold. And the reason it seemed she couldn’t cross it now was simple because she hadn’t crossed it before. Time and time again it had been in her mind, вЂ?I ought to go over and see Minnie Foster.вЂ™Ð²Ð‚Ñœ (286)

However, they followed the men inside, but stayed close to the door. Mr. Henderson began his investigation by asking Mr. Hale question on how he came across the dead body of Mr. Wright, and after Mr. Hale’s account of the event’ the men began their search for clues; starting with the upstairs where the body was found, since they found no reason to search the kitchen or anywhere else downstairs. But as a reassurance, the county attorney asked the sheriff, “You’re convinced there was nothing important here, nothing that would---point to a motive?” And the sheriff replied, “Nothing here but kitchen things,” along with a little laugh for the insignificance of kitchen things. So the men exit to the upstairs and leave the women behind. While the men are absent, the women begin to look around for things to gather up for Mrs. Wright, and realize that the men are blind; there are many clues downstairs pertaining to the murder of John Wright. And according to Mary Bendel-Sismo, “Although initially Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters are along more or less for the ride, to pick up personal belongings for the accused women, it soon becomes apparent that they are Minnie Wright’s legitimate counsel, jury, and judge” (291).

Mrs. Peters is the sheriff’s wife, and is insistent on upholding the law, where Mrs. Hale is just your ordinary citizen looking out for a fellow housewife. Mrs. Hale begins to notice the

condition of the Wright home; things have been interrupted, but for what reason? And there are other things out of place; unfinished quilting and a broken bird cage. And as Leonard Mustazza

stated in Generic Translation and Thematic Shift in Susan Glaspell’s “Trifles” and “A Jury of Her Peers,” “we come at this point to a crossroads in the story. Mrs. Hale can leave things as they are and keep information to herself, or she can recruit Mrs. Peters as a fellow “juror” in the case, moving the sheriff’s wife away from her sympathy for her husband’s position and towards the identification with the accused women. Mrs. Hale chooses the latter course and sets about persuading Mrs. Peters to emergeвЂ¦Ð²Ð‚Ñœ (494). Mrs. Hale then begins to share her thoughts with Mrs. Peters, in hopes to keep Mrs. Wright safe. In the meantime, the men continued to come up and down the stairs, then out to the barn, then up and down the stairs some more, like lost souls, not realizing that what they were looking for was right there in front of them. This shows that the men really have no idea what the right thing is to look for. Critic Lisa Ortiz sums it up by saying, “The men’s objective approach to the crime is informed by not their own ideas of what might have happened, but by a set of assumptions of what most people constitute as a crime. While looking for a certain set of clues, like forced entry, a murder weapon, and signs of intruders around the barn, they are not open to other interpretations of the crime, interpretations that perhaps only a woman who shared Minnie’s experiences might see” (Information and Much More from 2).

As the women continue to gather belongings for Minnie, they found a quilt that was left unfinished. As a matter of fact the last of what was down was a real mess. The men were once again downstairs as the women were looking over the quilt; wondering if she was going to quilt

it or just knot it. Sarcastically mocking the women, the sheriff said, “Do you suppose she was going to quilt it or knot it” (594)? Then he threw up his hands. However, the men missed an important clue. Since John Wright died by a rope being knotted around his neck, the



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