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.