It’s nothing… Ben-Ary and Harwood’s Immaterial

McKenzie, V. (2017). It’s nothing… Ben-Ary and Harwood’s Immaterial

Available from: Immaterial Introduction

In Susan Glaspell’s one-act play Trifles (1916), a group of men and women try to figure out the story behind an apparently senseless murder. While the men focus on material facts present in the house and barn, the women solve the mystery. They notice the ‘trifles’ that the men do not: clues present in the kitchen and amongst the sewing things that suggest domestic abuse led a wife to strangle her husband. They do not tell the men what they have seen. Thus, those things of little value and importance to the men are secretly recouped and used to buy the freedom of the accused woman. The play illustrates a link between the personal qualities of care and camaraderie, and the associated materials: sewing and kitchen things. All are gendered female.