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Trifles Summary

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Henry Peters, who is a sheriff, is accompanied by the county attorney George Henderson visit the Wright’s home with the motive of investigating the killing of John Wright. Meanwhile, Minnie Wright, who is his wife, is under police custody about the circumstances of this murder.  The two men are here for the evidence collection process in a bid to directly link her with the murder. With them is Lewis Hale, the neighbor of Minnie Wright. He was the second person after Minnie to see John’s lifeless body. Hale is expected to be the prosecution’s witness at the trial. Together With the three are Mrs. Peters, the wife of the Sheriff and Lewis’s wife. The sheriff enters the Wright’s farmhouse. They huddle around the hot stove to get warmth as the women move aimlessly along the doorway. As things stand, it looks like the two women very perturbed with the murder. However, they are not happy or comfortable with entering the house.

Here Is the Plot Overview of the Story

While in the house, the men initiate their investigation process. Henderson inquires from Hale on the events of the day before. Hale gives an account of how he was on his way to town carrying a sack full of potatoes when he stopped at the middle of the Wright’s farm. He was wondering if the Wright’s family would be in a position to share the telephone. Meanwhile, he found Minnie sitting on her rocking chair. However, she had a strange behavior. She said that John was dead upstairs. At that time, Minnie said that John had been strangled while deep asleep by an unknown people. She reported that she did not hear him being strangled as she was deep asleep as well. By the time of these investigations, Minnie had been arrested awaiting trial. She had spent a whole day in custody. She, therefore, needed fresh clothes to change. Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale were there to get those clothes for her. The act was out of pure kindness.

Henderson suggests that they should look around. The idea here is that they may find some leads that could help in the prosecution of the case. They search inside the room where Lewis found Minnie on an eventful day. According to the Sheriff, the only thing in the room is just kitchen things. The description is a pointer that the sheriff’ does not appreciate the contribution of women in society.  Sheriff Peters decides that they should concentrate on the family bedroom and around the barn. Those are the areas they assume the real clues can be located. A search of the cupboard yields broken jars. Henderson dismisses these jars as just “trifles.” On the other hand, Minnie had mentioned the preserves. As the men are searching upstairs, the women left behind begin their investigation. They collect the essentials required by Minnie while in prison. The items include clean clothes, a warm shawl, and an apron. While at it, they make important discoveries. This is the turning point of the synopsis.

First, they notice that Minnie’s clothes are dull and shabby. Mrs. Hale notes that she wore pretty clothes and used to be lively. Minnie’s that marriage to John made her change a lot. Wright was abusive, had a hot temper and made Minnie put on boring clothes in the place of the pretty ones she liked. This shoes Minnie was unhappy with the controlling nature of her husband. There were other little things like the bread leftovers, half-cleaned table and erratic stitching that shows Minnie’s questionable state of mental health. The suspicions they have been confirmed when they stumble on the most crucial clues; broken cage with a dead canary.  John might have broken the birdcage. However, it is unclear why. On the other hand, Minnie kept the canary inside the sewing box. This bird is a symbol of Minnie. She used to sing in the town choir before her marriage to Wright.

When the men who went upstairs reappear suddenly, Mrs. Hale is forced to hide the sewing box and concocts up a story about a cat wielding an attack on the canary as an explanation on the presence of this birdcage. Before leaving, the men check upstairs one more time. Meanwhile, the women discuss what they should do. They sympathize with Minnie’s situation and understand what drove her to murder the abusive husband. Mrs. Peters recollects how hard it was like when living on a farm with the husband. Life was tough on her then. She lost her baby in that homestead. She feels it is not a surprise that Minnie was pushed beyond what she could bear. They decide to hide all the evidence they had located pointing to Minnie’s motive for the murder. The men fail to notice anything substantive, claiming that all these items are just ‘trifles.’ The book by Susan Glaspell is an account of these investigations.

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