Minnie Wright is accused of murdering her husband. While Minnie awaits trial, five people come to her house: the sheriff, his wife, one of Minnie's neighbors, his wife, and a county prosecutor. The men are looking for evidence to use against Minnie. The women are collecting personal effects to bring to Minnie. Both women find strange details ("trifles") that the men don't notice. A strangled canary, for instance, or an irregular quilt pattern. The men, on the other hand, are only interested in finding evidence. Seeing the trifles, the women conclude that Minnie must've been driven to murder by her abusive husband. They decide not to tell the men, however, and stay silent out of respect for Minnie's suffering.
Most critics agree that Susan Glaspell’s “A Jury of Her Peers” is, by far, her best short story. First published in Everyweek on March 5, 1917, the work is a faithful adaptation of her play Trifles , produced the year before by the Provincetown Players. Cook had decided to stage two one-act plays for the company. He already had O’Neill’s Bound East for Cardiff (wr. 1913-1914, pr. 1916, pb. 1919) but needed another, and he told Glaspell to write one. She protested because of her lack of experience as a dramatist and the pairing with O’Neill. Reaching into her past as a courthouse reporter in Iowa, she remembered covering a murder trial and her impressions of entering the kitchen of the accused. She had meant to write about the experience as a short story but had never gotten to it.