A Jury of Her Peers

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Canning Jars of Fruit Symbol Analysis

Canning Jars of Fruit Symbol Icon

Minnie Wright’s concern over the canning jars of fruit symbolizes her parallel concerns about her gender role in society as a wife and housekeeper. Minnie is concerned about correctly fulfilling her role as a wife and housekeeper because she has been conditioned by a society that gives men power over their wives. Minnie’s concern is justified by the actions of the men in the story who feel, and are, able to criticize and correct the women without any repercussions. The men criticize Minnie’s messy kitchen, but also criticize Martha Hale and Mrs. Peters for their concern with the “trifles” in the kitchen. Because the men hold all the social power, they are able to criticize the women according to their whims.

When Mrs. Peters and Martha Hale find that the canning jars have been broken when left unattended, Martha Hale proposes lying to Minnie to protect her from the painful truth. The broken jars are linked to the brokenness of Minnie’s situation. Her fear has been actualized, just as it will be when she is tried and found guilty, as she surely will be. The lie of the other two women shows that these peers are willing to protect Minnie, even if their husbands are not. Further, this first, smaller lie foreshadows the larger act of subterfuge in which the women hide the evidence of Minnie’s motive for murder.

Canning Jars of Fruit Quotes in A Jury of Her Peers

The A Jury of Her Peers quotes below all refer to the symbol of Canning Jars of Fruit. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Subjugation of Women Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the University of Iowa Press edition of A Jury of Her Peers published in 2010.
A Jury of Her Peers Quotes

“Oh, well, women are used to worrying over trifles.”

Related Characters: Lewis Hale (speaker), Mrs. Peters, Martha Hale, Minnie Wright
Related Symbols: Trifles, Canning Jars of Fruit
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

The local attorney, the sheriff, and a primary witness search a farmhouse for evidence in a murder trial. The sheriff, Mr. Peters, and the witness, Mr. Hale, both bring along their wives who know Mrs. Wright, the murdered man’s husband and the primary suspect in the case. The group looks quickly around the kitchen and discovers a mess from exploded jars of fruit Mrs. Wright had been working on canning. Mrs. Hale explains that Mrs. Wright was worried about just this very thing, and her husband jokes that women are “used to worrying over trifles” like this canning project. Mr. Hale’s dismissal of the concerns of women as “trifles” shows the subjugation of women in this society (and this phrase also gives the title to one of Glaspell's other famous works, Trifles).

Women are expected to be wives, mothers, and caretakers: their work focuses on the domestic sphere. Men, on the other hand, work outside the home and fill all intellectual roles. Because these gender roles assign women to tasks and responsibilities that men view as less important, men are quick to dismiss and overlook what they consider to be women’s concerns. In this story, the men ignore the domestic things in the house, despite the fact that Minnie Wright is their primary suspect. They cannot imagine that women’s things could yield evidence about their murder investigation. This story shows the men’s ignorance because so-called women’s concerns and "trifles" are actually key in solving the murder mystery, which is decoded by the two female characters.

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Canning Jars of Fruit Symbol Timeline in A Jury of Her Peers

The timeline below shows where the symbol Canning Jars of Fruit appears in A Jury of Her Peers. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
A Jury of Her Peers
The Subjugation of Women Theme Icon
Crime and Punishment Theme Icon
...men head upstairs to examine the scene of the crime, George Henderson finds Minnie Wright’s canning jars of fruit in the pantry, which have broken and caused a sticky mess. Mrs. Peters exclaims sadly... (full context)
The Subjugation of Women Theme Icon
Male Obliviousness to Women’s Importance Theme Icon
...says, “the men are only doing their duty.” Mrs. Hale revisits the loss of Minnie’s canning jars of fruit and empathizes with Minnie’s hard work going to waste. (full context)
Legal Obligations vs. Gender Loyalty Theme Icon
...After these reflections, Mrs. Hale concludes that they ought to lie to Minnie about her canning jars of fruit and reassure her that they survived. (full context)