Journey Motif in Boys and Girls by Alice Munro

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Alice Munros Journey Motif in Boys and Girls

Many short stories are recognized as milestones in the development of modern realist fiction. “Boys and Girls” is a short story that evokes a realistic rather than romantic view of a girl’s journey towards finding herself. This short story includes the fight for her gender, and her struggle with her identity. Also, in addition to these two defining aspects, this short story contains the realistic account of who and what she is to become.

Clearly one of the main themes evident in this short story, the battle with her identity and gender is quickly made apparent. The narrator is a young girl who appreciates, respects and holds her father’s authority in high regard, while she looks down on her mother’s weakness. This weakness stems from the fact that her father dominates her mother. Her views toward her mother’s femininity stem from her own insecurities about becoming a woman, and thus they tend to be indifferent in nature. She does not think that women are bad people, but does think that they have ulterior intentions.

My mother, I felt, was not to be trusted. She was kinder than my father and more easily fooled, but you could not depend on her, and the real reasons for the things that she said and did were not to be known. She loved me, and she sat up late at night making a dress of the difficult style I wanted, for me to wear when school started, but she was also my enemy. (272)

In the story women are portrayed through the lives of the foxes that her father raises. The author uses the foxes as a means to express her own conceptions of what life as a housewife is like. The foxes are not named until they make it through the first breeding year. This symboli...

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...her own identity, her own morals, and her own beliefs. It is this individuality that will carry her down the road of life. Unfortunately, when someone else governs her life, that uniqueness that sets her apart from everyone else is tarnished. However, Alice Munro gives the reader a sense of hope and potential happiness for the girl by planting a seed that suggests that women can be self-governing, and they can survive without men controlling their every movement. Keeping that possibility in mind, this short story produces a sense of comfort in the reader, and also keeps the dreams alive with the promise of a new tomorrow.



Munro, Alice. “Boys and Girls”. Currents: Stories, Essays, Poems and Plays. Edited by McNeilly, K., Currie, N.E., New, W.H., Messenger, W.E. Scarborough, Ontario: Prentice – Hall Canada Inc., 2000. 269 - 277

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