A Jury of Her Peers

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Trifles Symbol Icon
Mr. Hale says that women are “used to worrying over trifles.” This significant quote identifies the way the men in this short story perceive the interests and concerns of the women. The men see women as engaged only with insignificant things, such as the canning jars of fruit that Minnie Wright is worried will have been ruined in her absence after her arrest, and the quilt that Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale decide to bring to Minnie at the jail to keep her busy. Trifles, a term misapplied by the men to everything that interests women, symbolize the blindness of the men to the importance of these very things. It is the “trifles” that reveal the motive behind Minnie’s crime, the piece of important evidence that the men seek. Because the men discount both the women and the women’s interests as “trifles,” they overlook the things that could reveal the truth about Minnie, her situation, and her actions, as well as the truth about sexism in their society.

Trifles Quotes in A Jury of Her Peers

The A Jury of Her Peers quotes below all refer to the symbol of Trifles. 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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Trifles Symbol Timeline in A Jury of Her Peers

The timeline below shows where the symbol Trifles 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
...face of her serious situation. Mr. Hale responds that “women are used to worrying over trifles.” (full context)