Part I. The men in Trifles act like they are professional detectives who are on the track of a deadly killer. Unfortunately, in their haste to look impressive, they forget to check out items in the kitchen, such as the ruined preserves and the dead canary that is wrapped up in the quilting material. These “trifles” would have given them insight into the personality of the murderer, as well as some of the emotional influences she had been undergoing. Rather than look at the “kitchen things,” the men dismiss them, saying that “women are used to worrying over trifles” (10) and then head up to the place where they found the body. The women betray little in the way of resentment, simply storing away the dead bird rather than letting it enter the realm of evidence. They quietly form an alliance against the factfinding mission of the men, having concluded that Mrs. Wright’s emotional life must have been so miserable as to make murder not only acceptable, but perhaps even palatable. This dovetails, in my opinion, with the way that many men still view women in our own time. Men tend to denigrate the things that women prize, often because they simply don’t understand the impulse to give emotional value to things – or even to parts of life.
Part II. The overwhelming pattern of rejection that dominates Yank’s life ultimately sends him to the zoo, where he befriends an ape. At the beginning of the play, he is the accepted leader of the work crew below the surface of the ocean liner, shoveling load after load of coal into the furnaces of the ship, powering it across the sea. When Mildred, ostensibly to assuage her social conscience, wangles her way down to where the men are working, she screams with fright at the sight of the filthy Yank. After the ship docks and Yank is out in the city, he tries to get the attention of women but is ignored, and eventually jailed for keeping a rich man from catching his bus on time. He bends the bars of his cage, but the guards keep him from escaping. Thinking that the IWW will welcome him, he goes to one of their meetings, but he is so enthusiastic that they think he is a spy. Left with no one, he goes to the Monkey House at the zoo and lets out the ape, whom he considers a brother. Unfortunately, the ape crushes and kills him, leaving him in the cage. Ironically, because of his station in society, he has been in that cage the whole time. The last stage direction is “He slips on the floor and dies. The monkeys set up a chattering, whimpering wail. And, perhaps, the Hairy Ape at last belongs” (Scene VIII). I viewed this as a cynical look at the ways that class warfare can warp the poor, turning them into desperate creatures rather than the strong people that they often set out to be.
Glaspell, Susan. Trifles. http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/GlaTrif.html. Web.
O’Neill, Eugene. The Hairy Ape. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/4015/4015-h/4015-h.htm. Web.