Trifles, Susan Glaspell, 1916
The kitchen in the now-abandoned farmhouse of John Wright, a gloomy kitchen,
— unwashed pans under the sink, a loaf of bread outside the bread-box, a dish-towel
on the table — other signs of incompleted work. At the rear the outer door opens and the
Sheriff comes in, followed by the County Attorney and Hale. ...They are followed by the
two women — the Sheriff's wife first; she is a slight wiry woman, a thin nervous face.
Mrs. Hale is larger and would ordinarily be called more comfortable looking, but she is
disturbed now and looks fearfully about as she enters. The women have come in slowly,
and stand close together near the door.
1. Now, Mr. Hale... you explain to Mr. Henderson just what you saw when
2. you came here yesterday morning.
3. ...I didn't hear or see anything; I knocked at the door, and still it was all quiet inside.
4. So I knocked again, and I thought I heard somebody say, "Come in." ...There in that
5. rocker — [pointing to it] — sat Mrs. Wright. ...She was rockin' back and forth. She had
7. her apron in her hand and was kind of — pleating it.
8. And how did she — look?
9. Well, she looked queer... as if she didn't know what she was going to do next.
10. And kind of done up.
11. How did she seem to feel about your coming?
12. She didn't pay much attention. I said, "How do, Mrs. Wright, it's cold, ain't it?"
13. And she said, "Is it?" — and went on kind of pleating at her apron. Well,
14. I was surprised; she didn't ask me to come up to the stove, or to set
15. down, but just sat there, not even looking at me, so I said, "I want to
16. see John." And then she — laughed, I guess you would call it a laugh.
17. ...I said a little sharp: "Can't I see John?" "No," she says, kind o' dull like.
18. "Ain't he home?" says I. "Yes," says she, "he's home." "Then why can't
19. I see him?" I asked her, out of patience. "'Cause he's dead," says she.
20. "Dead?" says I. She just nodded her head, not getting a bit excited,
21. but rockin' back and forth. "Why — where is he?" says I, not knowing
22. what to say. She just pointed upstairs... I says,"Why, what did he die of?"
23. "He died of a rope round his neck," says she, and just went on pleatin'
24. at her apron. Well, I went out and called Harry. I thought I might — need help.
25. We went upstairs and there he was lyin'— ...Well, my first thought was
26. to get that rope off. It looked... [Stops, his face twitches] ...but Harry,
27. he went up to him, and he said, "No, he's dead all right, and we'd better not
28. touch anything." So we went back downstairs. She was still sitting that same
29. way. "Has anybody been notified?" I asked. "No," says she, unconcerned.
30. "Who did this, Mrs. Wright?" said Harry. He said it business-like — and she
31. stopped pleatin' of her apron. "I don't know," she says. "You don't know?"
32. says Harry. "No," says she. "Weren't you sleepin' in the bed with him?"
33. says Harry. "Yes," says she, "but I was on the inside." "Somebody slipped
34. a rope round his neck and strangled him and you didn't wake up?" says Harry.
35. "I didn't wake up," she said after him... "I sleep sound." Harry was going to
36. ask her more questions but I said maybe we ought to let her tell her
37. story first to the coroner, or the sheriff, so Harry went fast as he could to Rivers'
38. place, where there's a telephone.
39. [To the Sheriff.] You're convinced that there was nothing important here?
40. Nothing here but kitchen things.
[The County Attorney, after again looking around the kitchen, opens the door of a cupboard
closet. He gets up on a chair and looks on a shelf. Pulls his hand away, sticky.]
41. [To the other woman.] Oh, her fruit; it did freeze.
42. [To the Lawyer.] She worried about that when it turned so cold.
43. She said the fire'd go out and her jars would break.
44. Well, can you beat the women! Held for murder and worryin'
45. about her preserves.
46. ...Well, women are used to worrying over trifles.
47. [With the gallantry of a young politician.]
48. Yet, for all their worries, what would we do without the ladies? [The
49. women do not unbend. He goes to the sink, takes a dipperful of water
50. from the pail and pouring it into a basin, washes his hands. Starts to
51. wipe them on the roller-towel, turns it for a cleaner place.]
52. Not much of a housekeeper, would you say, ladies.
53. [Stiffly.] There's a great deal of work to be done on a farm.
54. ...Ah, loyal to your sex, I see. But you and Mrs. Wright were neighbors.
55. [Shaking her head.] I've not been in this house
56. — it's more than a year. It never seemed a very cheerful place.
57. I don't think a place'd be any cheerfuller for John Wright's being in it.
Glaspell, Susan. "Trifles." Itech.fgcu.edu. Dr. Jim Wohlpart, July 1996. Web. 19 Apr. 2016.
Considering lines 12-38 as a whole, Mr. Hale's purpose in this play is to