The Separation Between Sexes
Since the time when Eve set herself apart from Adam by consuming the forbidden fruit, there always has been vast differences in the way men and women conduct themselves. These differences are very common among sexes, and are also easy to distinguish. For instance, more women tend to cry in sad movies than men do. This is because women are more emotional than men and can often express their feelings easier. But probably the most popular difference between men and women would be how women have the ability to go shopping for an entire day whereas men will leave after they get what they want. These differences between men and women are constantly being portrayed in the media, and moreover literature. The piece of literature I will discuss is Susan Glaspell’s A Jury of Her Peers, where Glaspell exemplifies the differences between men and women as they conduct their investigation of the murder of Mr. Wright.
From the beginning of the investigation, the men and women had vast differences in the way they went about looking for substantial evidence. For instance, the men approached the house with confidence and seemed to feel indifferent towards the situation even though the murder victim was a close acquaintance. But the women approached the house with caution and hesitation. Mrs. Martha Hale’s first thought as she encountered the crime scene was how in the past she thought, “I ought to go over and see Minnie Foster”. Martha regretted the fact that she never visited her long time friend except when it was too late. Also, when the county attorney asked Mr. Hale what happened the day before, Mrs. Hale was worried that he would add unnecessary comments and make things harder on Minnie Foster. This indicates that Martha Hale immediately sympathized with Minnie Foster although she had done something as wrong as killing. Instead of acknowledging the fact that Minnie Foster committed murder, she looks past this and inquires what could possibly induce her to do so. Relevant to this go back to the idea that she wished she would’ve visited Minnie earlier. Martha Hale assumed that loneliness was a big factor which drove Minnie to do such a thing. Next, the attorney being a male, functioned as a robot would; he had no feelings towards what happened. Right after Mr. Hale told his version of what happened, the attorney continued with, “I guess we’ll go upstairs first-then out to the barn and around there.” The attorney didn’t express any sympathy whatsoever, but was more concerned with getting on with the investigation. When the attorney found a mess of Minnie Foster’s preserved fruit, Mrs. Hale replied with, “Oh-her fruit”, and explained how Minnie was worried that the jars of her preserves might burst. On the other hand, Mr. Peters returned the statement with “Well, can you beat the woman! Held for murder, and worrying about her preserves!” But what separated the men from the women was when the sheriff decided that there was nothing but “kitchen things” in the kitchen which lead them upstairs in search for evidence.
As the men moved upstairs, there were a number of significant differences in the way the men and women conducted the investigation. First of all, the men went upstairs and the women remained in the kitchen both in hopes of finding convicting evidence. The men, being more logical went straight to the crime scene, yet the women were more concerned with Minnie Foster’s whereabouts and what she was doing around the time of the murder. Besides this, the women are more careful with everything and take the time to examine things thoroughly unlike the men who seem to rush things until they find what they want. For instance, Mrs. Hale noticed that the bag of sugar in the kitchen was half full, and remembered in her own home how she left the flour half sifted because she was interrupted. In result, Mrs. Hale concluded with the fact that Minnie Foster was interrupted for some reason and began to wonder what it was. Furthermore, when Mrs. Peters went to retrieve Minnie’s clothes they examined how shabby it appeared and figured that when you look good, you feel good and that Minnie was not as happy as she used to be. Another example of the women’s ways of careful observation is when Mrs. Peters found a quilt Minnie Foster began and wondered whether or not she quilted it or knotted it. Most men wouldn’t look so far as to ask how the quilt was made, yet the women were possessed by its beauty. In fact, the men laughed at the women for inquiring such a thing. Not only did they wonder how it was constructed, but they discovered that at first the quilt was stitched fine and evenly, however one block was stitched quite differently. In the time that the women discovered all this information which could lead to conviction, the men were finished upstairs and did not find any sufficient evidence.
While the men moved outside to the barn area, the women were still inside the kitchen looking for evidence. Although the women were searching for convicting evidence, they also planned to hide it. One example of this occurred when Mrs. Hale patched up the quilt that was blemished by repairing a few stitches. As the story reaches its’ climax, the women find the dead bird wrapped up in Minnie Foster’s sewing box. Moreover, the bird was not just killed, but it was tortured by having its neck wrung. The women hid this crucial evidence from the men because they could relate to how Minnie Foster must have felt at the time. Mrs. Peters said, “I know what stillness is”, “When we homesteaded in Dakota, and my first baby died-after he was two years old -and me with no other then-.” Obviously, she could put herself in Minnie Foster’s position and empathize with how she felt being so alone. Living in a house isolated down a long road, and being at home alone while her husband worked can drive a woman to insanity. Not to mention, her treasured pet bird was killed heartlessly by her husband. In the women’s eyes, Minnie Foster has a good reason to kill her husband and they felt the right thing to do was to disguise the evidence which could convict her. It is amazing how the women found the convicting evidence and also discovered why Minnie Foster committed the crime. The men on the other hand didn’t find the substantial evidence they were looking for. In addition, word puns were used to communicate the innocence of Minnie Foster when the men asked if she was going to quilt it or knot it, the women answered, “She was going to knot it.” Quilt it represents the fact that she was guilty and knot it, that she was not. In the final part of the investigation, the women succeeded in detecting the proof they needed to convict or save Minnie Foster.
As you can see, the women are far different from the men since they go by emotions and tend to sympathize with other women. On the other hand, the men are more likely to think rationally and somewhat narrow-minded. In this case of A Jury of Her Peers, thinking practically lead the men nowhere. Whether or not hiding the evidence was morally wrong or not, they concluded if they were in Minnie Foster’s shoes they would do the same thing too. Glaspell did a great job in displaying the contrasts in the way women and men conduct themselves. By dividing the men and women in the story and observing the outcome of the investigation, you can understand how sometimes thinking logically is not always the best thing to do.