The canning jars of fruit represent Minnie
’s extreme concern over her role as wife and her household responsibilities. This concern is the product of the pressure society has placed on her as a woman and a wife, teaching her to fear the judgment of men if she does not adequately fulfill her expected role. This fear is clearly justified as the men rebuke her housekeeping abilities while also laughing at the other women’s concern over trifles
. The women are judged for both too much concern and too little concern about housekeeping. Minnie is worried that the canning jars will break and her hard work will be ruined, and in their inspection of the house Mrs. Hale
and Mrs. Peters
discover that this has indeed happened. Their decision to lie to Minnie and say that the jars have not broken establishes the canning jars as a symbol of Minnie’s situation, her pain, and her nearly certain sentence. The canning jars are broken as Minnie feared, and this symbolizes the inevitability of her conviction. The women’s decision to lie to Minnie is also the first clear example of these women’s connection with another woman-in-need to the point of working against the concerns or preferences of their husbands. By the end of the play, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters actively attempt to protect Minnie by concealing the evidence against her. Their instinct to protect her against the men who have judged her is first shown in their agreement to lie to her about her canning jars.