“A Jury of Her Peers” by Susan Glaspell

“A Jury of Her Peers,” the short story by Susan Glaspell begins with the exposition. The reader is able to imagine the setting; it is a cold, windy morning in March and the story happens in a small town where everyone knows everyone else.

The characters are also introduced little by little: Martha Hale, a housewife and Mr. Hale’s wife; Mr. Hale, the one who found the dead body; Peters, the sheriff; Mrs. Peters, Peters’ wife; Henderson, the county attorney. The other character, John Wright, the murder victim, and Mrs. Wright of Minnie Foster, though not present in the single scene the story tells of are also discussed and described.

The conflict is, of course, the murder of John Wright; or, to be more specific, the finding of clues to solve the murder of John Wright. The fact that there had been a murder is slowly hinted at at the beginning of the story, and comes to light during Mr. Hale’s recounting of how he found the body.

The rising action occurs as the characters go about the house looking for clues. The main action, however, centers on the two women as they stumble across clues trying to get the house in order for Mrs. Wright. The conflict intensifies as the women begin to understand why Mrs. Wright must have done what she did. The women solve the mystery, but this is not the climax of the story.

The climax of the story occurs when the women silently decide not to tell the men about their findings when they had the chance. They even went so far as to hide the most significant clue for Mrs. Wright motivation, the dead canary.

The falling action stage occurs in the story, although it is very brief. After they hid the box, one of the women answers Henderson’s teasing question about Mrs. Wright’s quilt. As the story is basically just one scene, it does not contain any foreshadowing or flashbacks.