Awareness in Boys and Girls by Alice Munro Essay example

Awareness in Boys and Girls by Alice Munro Essay example

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When children are faced with emotional events that challenge their ideas, they take another step on the road to being “grown up” as they discover their identity. The short story “Boys and Girls” written by Alice Munro illustrates this coming of age by allowing us to follow the development of a young girl. We follow the main character, who narrates the story, as she changes from beginning to end. As the story opens, the narrator acts like a care free child, not paying heed to her gender. She then begins to react strongly to the way she is treated by her family and their expectations of her young womanhood. Once she realizes that some changes are inevitable she begins to adopt a new understanding of who she is which is evidence of a more mature way of thinking. This story demonstrates that difficult childhood experiences regarding gender contribute to a developing maturity and are frequently met with varying degrees of resistance.

In the early parts of the story, the narrator behaves in a way that would be expected of a young child. She, along with her younger brother, finds Henry Bailey (the family’s hired hand) to be quite amusing in his antics. She states that “we admired [Henry] for [his] performance and for his ability to make his stomach growl at will, and for his laughter, which was full of high whistling and gurgling and involved the whole faulty machinery of his chest”(101). Being afraid of the dark is another experience that she and her brother share, and they fabricate rules that “When the light was on, [they] were safe as long as [they] did not step off the square of worn carpet which defined [their] bedroom-space” (101). Children that are of a young age will often make up stories that reflect their s...


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... let Flora run free, he “[speaks] with resignation, even good humour, the words which absolved and dismissed [her] for good. ‘She’s only a girl’ ” (114) to which she states “I didn’t protest that, even in my heart. Maybe it was true” (114).

It is not an easy task for a child to understand the obligations that accompany their assigned gender, yet while they encounter difficulties processing these thoughts they are also achieving a greater sense of identity. Different stages of life consist of social rules that encode how one is to behave, however, it is not clearly defined when the transition should occur from young girl to young woman. It is not surprising that learning about gender roles and their associated responsibilities is not an easy part of a young child’s maturation and is often the result of a very emotionally charged collection of experiences.

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