Boys and Girls by Alice Munro

829 Words4 Pages
Society tries to place many rules upon an individual as to what is acceptable and what is not . One must decide for themselves whether to give in to these pressures and conform to society’s projected image, or rather to resist and maintain their own desired self image. In the story “Boys and Girls” by Alice Munro, Munro suggests that this conflict is internal and external and a persons experiences in life will determine which of these forces will conquer. In terms of the unnamed protagonist’s experiences in the story, it becomes clear just how strong the pressure of society to conform really is, as it overcomes and replaces the girl’s self image.

In order to better understand the conflict, first we must define what conformity and self image are in the story “Boys and Girls”. Conformity is action in accordance with prevailing social standards, attitudes, and practices. In the time frame of the story, as well as through much of history, it was the social norm for women to be housemaids, and to rarely venture outside of the house to perform “man’s work”. The narrator however, has a different idea as to about how she wishes to live her life. She does not enjoy “work done in the kitchen” as she finds it tedious and “endless”. She does view the work of her father though as “ritualistically important” and far more interesting. This tomboy state of mind of the girl is part of her self image, defined as the idea, conception, or mental image one has of oneself. Upon reading the story, it is clear that her views come into direct conflict with her parent’s beliefs, and even mainstream society’s. While the protagonist’s self image of herself is a driving factor in the nature of her adventures and leisure, with enough outside pressure it can b...

... middle of paper ...

...alized that “a girl was not, as [she] had supposed, simply what [she] was; it was what [she] had to become” she was starting to admit defeat, and then finally when she begins to cry, it is here that the narrator understands that there is no escape from the pre-determined duties that go along with the passage of a child into being a girl, and a girl into a woman, and that “even in her heart. Maybe it (her understanding that conforming is unstoppable) was true”

In conclusion , I believe that as strong as the protagonist’s self image of herself was, one girl is no match for all of society, which has efficiently put her “in her place”. This manipulation of the girl’s self image is not only the end of her unique identity, but it is also a blow against freedom and individualism. Unfortunately for this horse, she could not roam free forever, and she has finally been caught.
Open Document