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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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3. Utopian Promise   

11. Modernist Portraits

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Activities: Author Activities

Susan Glaspell - Author Questions

Back Back to Susan Glaspell Activities
  1. Comprehension: What do Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale discover in Minnie Wright's house? How do you explain their decision not to tell the Sheriff and County Attorney about what they found? Why do you think the title of the play is Trifles?

  2. Comprehension: According to Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale, what is the life of a farmer's wife like? How does the description of the life Minnie Wright must have led help to make sense of her behavior?

  3. Context: At the time this play was produced, the suffrage movement in the United States had come close to reaching its goal: suffrage was granted to women in 1919. What does this play suggest about the way society viewed women and their fields of "expertise" (largely centered in the home)? Why do you think society evaluated women in this way?

  4. Context: Examine the photograph of the "Women's club making a quilt" featured in the archive. What does the image suggest to you about the lives of these people? How does the image help you to understand what Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters say about the life of a farm woman?

  5. Exploration: Consider other texts that deal with the challenges women face in their lives. What connections can you draw between Trifles and Harriet Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861), Louisa May Alcott's Work (1873), Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" (1892), Willa Cather's O Pioneers! (1913), and Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior (1976)? What shapes the female characters' beliefs about themselves and their place in society? How do cultural traditions inform gender roles in these texts?

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