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The canning jars of fruit represent Minnie’s concern for her marital and household responsibilities due to the pressure society has placed on her. She is taught to fear the judgment of men if she does not complete her habitual role as a housekeeper. This fear is justified as the men mock her hard work while also rebuking the other woman’s attention to trifles. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters are judged for both ends of the scale, too little and too much apprehension over the housekeeping. Particularly, Mrs. Hale is frustrated by the Sheriff’s unjust critique, “Well, can you beat the women! Held for murder and worryin’ about her preserves,” (1712). She tells Mrs. Peters, “I’d hate to have men coming into my kitchen, snooping around and criticizing,” (1713). Mrs. Peters believes “it’s no more than their duty.” (1713). Both women revisit the loss of Minnie’s canning jars of fruit and empathize with her hard work. Her fruits of artistry and musical talent have been starved in the isolated home she lives in. After years of being repressed by her insensitive husband, Minnie broke just like the jars.

Mrs. Hale’s decision to lie to Minnie about her broken jars and “tell her it’s all right” (1718) symbolizes Minnie’s pain and the inevitability of her sentence. Without a fire going, the temperature would be too low and cause the jars to crack and break. This breaking point can be compared to Minnie’s sanity when she snaps and chokes her husband.

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The little yellow songbird symbolizes Minnie’s spirit and youthful freedom “when she was Minnie Foster, one of the town girls singing in the choir” (1714). While the bird is alive, she experiences some joy singing to it in her lonesome farmhouse. Minnie was once “a bird herself- real sweet and pretty, but kind of timid- fluttery” (1717). Because Minnie was caught in a patriarchal society living with an estranged husband, her vitality was strangled out of her. Mr. Wright’s silencing of this one voice kills the music permanently. Mrs. Wright feels desolate after her husband strangles the songbird, and, in return, she chokes the life out of him.

The canary also represents Minnie’s desperate loneliness and need for companionship. Her childless home made for less work, but “makes a quiet house” (1717). The bird was Minnie’s source of love; Mr. Wright neither acknowledged this need for the company nor that her sole outlet of happiness was the bird.   

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Essay on Canary Symbolism in ‘Trifles’.
(2024, May 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 18, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/essay-on-canary-symbolism-in-trifles/

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2024 May 16 [cited 2024 May 18].
Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/essay-on-canary-symbolism-in-trifles/

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