Susan Glaspell

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on Trifles makes teaching easy.
The Dirty Towel Symbol Icon
This is one of many out-of-place objects in Minnie’s kitchen that cause George Henderson to accuse her of being a poor housekeeper. The disarray of Minnie’s kitchen demonstrates a distressed mind and that Minnie’s act of killing her husband was more emotional and dramatic than her demeanor indicates. In addition, the mess in the kitchen symbolizes the ways in which the men in this play expect women to fulfill certain gender roles. Minnie, not John, is held responsible for the state of the house and is seen as unfit for her role of wife, as a result. It is precisely this sort of judgment, and the fact that the men are so comfortable in judging women, that isolates Minnie in the first place.

The Dirty Towel Quotes in Trifles

The Trifles quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Dirty Towel. 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
Trifles Quotes

“I’d hate to have men coming into my kitchen, snooping around and criticizing.” “Of course it’s no more than their duty.”

Related Characters: Lewis Hale (speaker), Mrs. Peters (speaker), George Henderson, Henry Peters
Related Symbols: The Dirty Towel
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Trifles LitChart as a printable PDF.
Trifles PDF

The Dirty Towel Symbol Timeline in Trifles

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Dirty Towel appears in Trifles. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Social Oppression of Women Theme Icon
Gender Allegiance vs. Legal Duty Theme Icon
...farmhouse. The kitchen is in disarray with unwashed dishes, a loaf of uncooked bread, and a dirty towel on the table. The county attorney George Henderson arrives at the house accompanied by the... (full context)
Social Oppression of Women Theme Icon
The Blindness of Men Theme Icon
Gender Allegiance vs. Legal Duty Theme Icon
George Henderson, looking over the mess in the kitchen and noticing in particular the dirty towel , says Minnie seems to be a poor housekeeper. Mrs. Hale stiffly points out that... (full context)