The Importance of Gender in Boys and Girls by Alice Munro

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The Importance of Gender in Boys and Girls

Since the beginning of time, gender roles have existed in society. Women were assigned the tasks of child-care and food preparation. Men performed most activities that required physical strength. As society progressed, the role of women did not. Although less emphasis is placed on gender roles today, gender roles still exist. In 1968, Alice Munro wrote, "Boys and Girls" to address the confusion that gender roles may cause in a modern society.

"Boys and Girls" is a coming-of-age story about a young girl who is enjoying her tomboy years and is defiant about becoming a woman. The theme in "Boys and Girls" is this transition from the childhood tomboy into the mature woman. The girl is unsure about whether she wants to be a woman or not, because she enjoys her father's work and wants to be a part of it. On page 113, the girl expresses her feeling of disgust, "she (the mother) was plotting now to get me to stay in the house more, although she knew I hated it (because she knew I hated it) and keep me from working for my father." The girl does not want to participate in womanly chores in the house; she wants to work outside with her father. The whole story is centered around gender roles of women and the girl must face and accept that her role is not outside with the pelting operation. The girl, who is the main character, describes her father¹s pelting operation in much detail showing her interest and knowledge of it. On page 109 and the top of page 110, line eight, she describes what is meant by pelting operation by explaining, "that was what the killing, skinning, and preparation of the furs was called." She likes her father's work so much that she concerns herself with k...

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...Munro's story "Boys and Girls," gender is a key element. Although the theme is the girl changing to the woman she had to become, it ultimately shows the limitations placed on women. It seems that, really, not much has changed for women since hunting and gathering days and the Enlightenment. Women are still associated with certain ways they must act and tasks they must perform.

Works Cited and Consulted

Carscallen, James. The Other Country: Patterns in the Writing of Alice Munro. Toronto: ecw 1993

Heble, Ajay. The Tumble of Reason: Alice Munro's Discourse of Absence. Toronto: University of Toronto Press 1994

Munro, Alice. "Boys and Girls." The Norton Introduction to Literature. Eds. Carl E. Bain, Jerome Beaty and J. Paul Hunter. 6th ed. New York: Norton, 1995.

Martin, W.R. Alice Munro: Paradox and Parallel. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press 1987

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