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Canning Jars of Fruit Symbol Analysis

Canning Jars of Fruit Symbol Icon
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.

Canning Jars of Fruit Quotes in Trifles

The Trifles 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:
Social Oppression of Women Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Baker's Plays edition of Trifles published in 1951.
Trifles Quotes

“Well, women are used to worrying over trifles.”

Related Characters: Lewis Hale (speaker), Mrs. Peters, Mrs. Hale, Minnie Wright
Related Symbols: Trifles, Canning Jars of Fruit
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

George Henderson, the county attorney, accompanies Mr. Hale and Mr. Peters, and their wives, to the home of a man who was recently killed. The murdered man's wife, Mrs. Wright, has been taken into custody, and the men search the home for any evidence. They find that Mrs. Wright's hard labor of canning fruit has been ruined, as the jars have frozen and exploded in the cold weather. The women's sympathy for Mrs. Wright's ruined project draws scorn from the men. Mr. Hale dismisses their concern by stating that women "are used to worrying over trifles." This statement reveals both the attitudes of the men toward women and the social position women hold in this play. 

First, the men all think of women, and the concerns of women, as inferior to men and the concerns of men ("trifles" as compared to presumably important issues). Second, the domain of women is the domestic sphere. Men fill the roles of investigators and intellects, while women are not expected to understand or help with the search for evidence against Mrs. Wright. Because the women have been delegated lesser roles and responsibilities, the men see "women's things" (anything related to the household) as trifles. This perspective ultimately causes these men to overlook the very evidence they need, because they immediately discount the importance of women's things and concerns. As a whole, the play shows the error in this thinking. Women's concerns, emotional abuse, and social oppression are at the heart of this story, and are not trivial at all.


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Canning Jars of Fruit Symbol Timeline in Trifles

The timeline below shows where the symbol Canning Jars of Fruit appears in Trifles. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Social Oppression of Women Theme Icon
The Blindness of Men Theme Icon being only kitchen things. The county attorney discovers that the mess comes from Minnie’s canning jars of fruit , which have exploded. Mrs. Peters says that she knew Minnie was worried about this... (full context)
Gender Allegiance vs. Legal Duty Theme Icon
...out, but had not baked. Mrs. Hale is sympathetic for Minnie’s hard work on her canning jars of fruit having gone to waste. (full context)
Gender Allegiance vs. Legal Duty Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
...different kind of the same thing.” Mrs. Hale says they shouldn’t tell Minnie that her canning jars of fruit broke. (full context)