Coming of Age in Alice Munro’s "Boys and Girls" Essay

Coming of Age in Alice Munro’s "Boys and Girls" Essay

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In Alice Munro’s “Boys and Girls,” there is a time line in a young girl’s life when she leaves childhood and its freedoms behind to become a woman. The story depicts hardships in which the protagonist and her younger brother, Laird, experience in order to find their own rite of passage. The main character, who is nameless, faces difficulties and implications on her way to womanhood because of gender stereotyping. Initially, she tries to prevent her initiation into womanhood by resisting her parent’s efforts to make her more “lady-like”. The story ends with the girl socially positioned and accepted as a girl, which she accepts with some unease.
The young girl in the story is struggling with finding her own gender identity. She would much rather work alongside her father, who was “tirelessly inventive” (Munro 328), than stay and work with her mother in the kitchen, depicted through, “As soon as I was done I ran out of the house, trying to get out of earshot before my mother thought of what to do next” (329). The girl is torn between what her duties are suppose to be as a woman, and what she would rather be doing, which is work with her father. She sees her father’s work as important and worthwhile, while she sees her mother’s work as tedious and not meaningful. Although she knows her duties as a woman and what her mother expects of her, she would like to break the mould and become more like her father. It is evident that she likes to please her father in the work she does for him when her father says to the feed salesman, “Like to have you meet my new hired man.” I turned away and raked furiously, red in the face with pleasure (328-329). Even though the young girl is fixed on what she wants, she has influences from both genders i...


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Now, the young girl is expressing feelings that are more womanlike, and she is beginning her initiation of a young child into an adult, or more specifically, a woman.
Acceptance of who we are plays a large part in the overall theme of “rite of passage” in the story. The young girl is opposed to the thought of working for her mother at the beginning, but eventually comes to a realization that it is her pre-determined fate to fit the mould of the gender stereotype. Through the girl’s hardships, she accepts the fact that her younger brother, Laird, is now the man that his father needs for help, and she takes her place in womanhood. The story embodies gender identity and stereotypes, as a young child moves into adulthood. The fact that our rite of passage is unavoidable proves that we must all go through our own journeys to find our own true identity.

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