The strangled songbird that Mrs. Hale
and Mrs. Peters
discover explains the motivation behind Minnie Wright
’s crime, but also symbolizes John Wright
’s abusive treatment of his wife. Minnie is linked to the bird through Mrs. Hale’s memory of her as a young unmarried woman who liked to sing. Like the dead bird, Minnie was once bright and filled with life, but this energy and vitality was strangled out of her by life with John Wright, by her married life caught in a patriarchal society living with a hard man (a fact the other women understand because they experience the same thing, though to a lesser extent). The bird also symbolizes Minnie’s need for companionship in her childless home, and the death of the bird showed that John not only didn’t acknowledge this need but actually removed her remaining source of happiness in a cruel and brutal way.