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Peer Pressure To Allegiance Essay, Research Paper

Peer Pressure to Allegiance

by Jason Harris

Written Communications III

Professor Brenner

March 19, 2001

Harris 1

Peer Pressure to Allegiance

Peer Pressure is defined as the influence exerted upon one by others of the same age, social group, etc. Allegiance is the obligation of a person to his or her state or government, fidelity to a person or principle; devotion. In Susan Glaspell?s ?A Jury of Her Peers,? Martha Hales character attempts to persuade Mrs. Peters characters initial thinking. She does this through peer pressure.

?A Jury of Her Peers,? is about a criminal act. Mrs. Wright is being held in the county jail for murder. John Wright, her husband, was found dead with a rope around his neck. Lewis Hale stopped by the Wright?s home for help with his load of potatoes. He instead found John Wright dead. The story begins with Martha in her own kitchen. Mr. Hale has stopped by the house to pick Martha up. The Hales are joined by the sheriff, his wife, and the county prosecutor, Mr. Henderson. They are on their way to the Wright home. They are searching for a motive behind the murder of Mr. Wright. The Wright home is the setting for the story.

The sheriff?s second wife, Mrs. Peters was the only other woman among the group. She is not your typical sheriff?s wife. She is quiet and petite. She does not possess a strong authoritative voice like Mrs. Hale. At the Wright house, the three men Mr. Hale, Mr. Henderson, and the sheriff venture upstairs to search for a motive. Mrs. Hale, the dominant woman in this story, strikes up a conversation with Mrs. Peters. It begins with Mrs. Hale displaying her dislike of the men snooping around the house. Mrs. Peters does not agree with Martha. She views the men not as snooping, but as investigating. They are doing their duty says Mrs. Peters. Her loyalty sides with her husband. The women are gathering Mr. Wright?s things when Martha begins to tell stories of Minnie Foster. Minnie Foster is the name of Mrs. Wright before she was married to John. Martha explains how she wore pretty clothes and used to be lively. Martha is building a foundation to persuade Mrs. Peters opinion of Mrs. Wright. Mrs. Peters believes that Mrs. Wright murdered Mr. Wright, which is true, but she does not know all the circumstances surrounding the

Harris 2

situation. Martha asks her if she thought Mrs. Wright murdered John Wright. Mrs. Peters did not give her honest opinion. She said, ?Oh I don?t know? (173). She feels intimidating peer pressure from Martha. She does stand up to her. Martha says, ?it seems kind of sneaking: locking her up in town and coming out here to get her own house to turn against her? (173). Mrs. Peters replies, ?But, Mrs. Hale the law is the law? (173). Martha gives a short sarcastic reply, ?the law is the law and a bad stove is a bad stove? (173).

Mrs. Peters feels the peer pressure from Martha. Martha has a feeling that Mrs. Wright may have killed her husband but Martha wants to know which side Mrs. Peters is loyal to. Is her allegiance to the farm women in this community or to the law? They are still gathering Mrs. Wright?s clothes when they stumble across a clue; a damaged birdcage. The birdcage is empty. Martha explains Mrs. Wright?s love for her pet canary. They are gathering one of Mrs. Wrights quilts when they stumble across a beautiful sewing box. The beautiful sewing box contains Mrs. Wrights pet canary. The canary?s neck is broken. At this moment, they know Mrs. Wright killed her husband. They are aware of the importance of the pet canary to Mrs. Wright. As they put the clues together, the men start down the stairs. This is it! Mrs. Peters must decide her allegiance. Would the quiet and petite Mrs. Peters swear allegiance to the women and protect Mrs. Wright? Or would she reveal to the men, the clues, which they stumbled across and could use against Mrs. Wright? Mrs. Peters grabs the box and attempts to stuff the sewing box in her handbag. She sides with the women. The peer pressure from Martha has changed her beliefs. If Martha would not have asserted peer pressure, the outcome of this story would have been different.

Throughout this story, there is no dialog with the central character of the story. We know that Martha Hale is a strong-willed woman. She is quick to defend her gender, and unfinished things always bother her. Mrs. Peters is petite, quiet and easily persuaded. Mrs. Wright possessed some amazing qualities herself. She had tolerance with dealing with an abusive husband. She was submissive, obedient, and honored her husband. The bible says, ?Wives submit to your own

Harris 3

husbands, as to the Lord? Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her? (Ephesians 5:22,25). Mrs. Wright obeyed the Lord. The same cannot be said about John Wright. He did not honor his wife. The only fault of Mrs. Wright is killing her husband; but I believe she knows the Lord and will be forgiven of her sin.


Roberts, Edgar V. Jacobs, Henry E. Literature. ?A Jury of Her Peers.? Susan Glaspell

New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1998. 166-180.

MacArthur, John. The MacArthur Study Bible.

Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997.

Morehead, Albert and Loy. The New American Webster Handy College Dictionary.

New York: Penguin Putnam Inc., 1995.

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