Essay PreviewMore ↓
Alice Munro's short story, "Boys and Girls," has a very interesting
detail written into it. The narrator's brother is named Laird, which was
carefully chosen by the author. Laird is a synonym for lord, which plays a
important role in a story where a young girl has society's unwritten rules
forced upon her. At the time of the story, society did not consider men and
women equal. The name symbolized how the male child was superior in the
parents' eyes and in general. Along with that, the name also symbolizes the
difference between the sexes when this story took place.
The time when this story took place was a time when men and women were
not equal. Mothers had traditional roles, which usually left them in the house,
while men also had their roles, outside of the house. The male was the dominant
figure in the house, while the woman had to be subservient.
It was an off thing to see my mother down at the barn. She did not
often come out of the house unless it was to do something - hang out the wash or
dig potatoes in the garden. She looked out of place, with her bare lumpy legs,
not touched by the sun, her apron still on and damp across the stomach from the
The narrator had problems coming to terms with the role in life that she
was expected to lead. She wanted to work outside with her father doing the work
that she deemed important. The mother tried to get the narrator to work inside
doing work deemed appropriate for a lady, however it was not something she
enjoyed. "I hated the hot dark kitchen in the summer" (p. 530). The narrator
was not considered of any consequential help to her father, simply because she
"Could of fooled me," said the salesman. "I thought it was only a girl"
(p. 529). Even though the narrator could do more work than her younger brother,
she was still under appreciated. "Wait till Laird gets a little bigger, then
you'll have a real help" (p. 530). Laird, on the other hand, was able to go
out and do the things that he enjoyed. When Flora, the family's horse, runs
away Laird is invited to join the father and his assistant to re-capture the
horse, while the narrator must stay at home.
When the narrator is reminiscing of the past, she recalls a time when
she lured Laird up to the top of the barn. The whole purpose of this idea was
How to Cite this Page
"Alice Munro's Boys and Girls." 123HelpMe.com. 18 Jul 2019
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- 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”.... [tags: Boys and Girls, Alice Munro]
1071 words (3.1 pages)
- Alice Munro's Boys and Girls In Alice Munro’s “Boys and Girls” she tells a story about a young girl’s resistance to womanhood in a society infested with gender roles and stereotypes. The story takes place in the 1940s on a fox farm outside of Jubilee, Ontario, Canada. During this time, women were viewed as second class citizens, but the narrator was not going to accept this position without a fight. Munro’s invention of an unnamed character symbolized the narrator’s lack of identity, compared to her younger brother, who was given the name Laird, which is a synonym for “Lord”.... [tags: Boys and Girls Alice Munro]
1063 words (3 pages)
- Alice Munro's "Boys and Girls" Alice Munro's short story, "Boys and Girls," has a very interesting detail written into it. The narrator's brother is named Laird, which was carefully chosen by the author. Laird is a synonym for lord, which plays a important role in a story where a young girl has society's unwritten rules forced upon her. At the time of the story, society did not consider men and women equal. The name symbolized how the male child was superior in the parents' eyes and in general.... [tags: Boys and Girls, Alice Munro]
1047 words (3 pages)
- “Boys and Girls” is a short story, by Alice Munro, which illustrates a tremendous growing period into womanhood, for a young girl living on a fox farm in Canada, post World War II. The young girl slowly comes to discover her ability to control her destiny and her influences on the world. The events that took place over the course of the story helped in many ways to shape her future. From these events one can map the Protagonist’s future. The events that were drawn within the story provided the Protagonist with a foundation to become an admirable woman.... [tags: Boys and Girls, Alice Munro]
1200 words (3.4 pages)
- Maturity and Self-Identity in Munro’s Boys and Girls In Alice Munro’s story "Boys and Girls" the main character/narrator disobeys her father without her father knowing. She does this because she is starting to become her own person. Her maturity and capability to make her own decisions are pointed out distinctively as the story develops. Therefore she continued to do little things against the beliefs of her family, because as she said, "I kept myself free" (1008). You can tell that she was an outcast from the rest of her family, due to the fact that she did not act like a girl as her grandmother continued to try and point out to her.... [tags: Boys and Girls Alice Munro]
719 words (2.1 pages)
- In her story, Boys and Girls, Alice Munro depicts the hardships and successes of the rite of passage into adulthood through her portrayal of a young narrator and her brother. Through the narrator, the subject of the profound unfairness of sex-role stereotyping, and the effect this has on the rites of passage into adulthood is presented. The protagonist in Munro's story, unidentified by a name, goes through an extreme and radical initiation into adulthood, similar to that of her younger brother.... [tags: Boys and Girls Alice Munro]
1113 words (3.2 pages)
- 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.... [tags: Boys and Girls Alice Munro]
1017 words (2.9 pages)
- Ambition—the desire to achieve, will to succeed. Every character is defined by his dreams, his goals, and his passions. As individuals, we are confronted with social codes and implications that cause us to revolt and break free from the grasp of uniformity. Oftentimes dreams and ambitions clash with the unwritten laws of civilization. In Willa Cather’s short fiction “Paul’s Case” and Alice Munro’s “Boys and Girls”, the protagonists challenge expectations and rebel against settings governed by uniformity and gender-specific roles.... [tags: Boys and Girls Alice Munro]
1031 words (2.9 pages)
- Gender Role Reevaluation in Boys and Girls Recent history boldly notes the protests and political unrest surrounding the Vietnam Conflict during the 1960s and 70s. However, equally important in this era are the women who pushed for gender role reevaluation and publicly rebelled against the established social norm of a woman's "place." Although Alice Munro may not have been burning her bra on the courthouse steps, threads of a feminist influence can be found in "Boys and Girls." Munro's main character, a girl probably modeled after Munro's own childhood experiences on an Ontario farm, faces her awakening body and the challenge of developing her social identity in a man's wor... [tags: Boys and Girls Alice Munro]
791 words (2.3 pages)
- The Struggle for Self-Definition in Boys and Girls When we are adolescents we see the world through our parents' eyes. We struggle to define ourselves within their world, or to even break away from their world. Often, the birth of our "self" is defined in a moment of truth or a moment of heightened self-awareness that is the culmination of a group of events or the result of a life crisis or struggle. In literature we refer to this birth of "self" as an epiphany. Alice Munro writes in "Boys and Girls" about her own battle to define herself. She is torn between the "inside" world of her mother and the "outside" world of her father. In the beginning her father's world prevails, but b... [tags: Boys and Girls Alice Munro]
2750 words (7.9 pages)
danger, they are actually mad at her, instead of Laird. This shows how the
parents were more concerned with their son and that he could do no wrong. This
reflects society's notion at the time, how men were always right.
My father came, my mother came, my father went up the ladder talking
very quietly and brought Laird down under his arm, at which my mother leaned
against the ladder and began to cry. They said to me, "Why weren't you watching
him?" (p. 534)
The grandmother is the best example of how women were thought of at the
time. She is from a time when there were even stricter rules of conduct for
girls. The narrator's parents are more lackadaisical than the grandmother and a
lot less out-spoken. She voices what was taught to her when she was a child.
At the time of the story, girls were expected to be dainty and quaint, while a
man was expected to be the rough and tumble one.
"Girls don't slam doors like that." "Girls keep their knees together when they
sit down." And worse still, when I asked some questions, "That's none of girls'
business." I continued to slam the doors and sit as awkwardly as possible,
thinking that by such measures I kept myself free. (p. 532)
The narrator, however, did not keep her self free. Eventually, she began to
change and to become a stereotypical female. She began to conform to society's
idea's about women.
Near the end of the story, Laird starts to realize his sex-determined
superiority. He explains to his father and mother how Flora escaped from the
yard and also starts listening to his father almost exclusively.
"We shot old Flora," he said, "and cut her up in fifty pieces." "Well I don't
want to hear about it," my mother said. "And don't come to my table like that."
My father made him go and wash the blood off. (p. 536)
Laird washes the blood off only after his father tells him to do so. This shows
the dominance of males in the society of the time. Laird may field his mother's
complains, but only does something about it once his father tells him to do so.
This shows how his father is the authority figure, that his mother secondary to
his father. Even the daughter thinks lowly of the mother in comparison to the
father. "It showed how little my mother knew about the way things really were"
"Boys and Girls" takes place at a time where there is no such thing as
equality between the sexes. Men in this society are the dominant, authoritarian
heads of the house-hold whose work is done outside the home. Women are expected
to look after the men and their work is done in the home. The narrator in "Boys
and Girls" slowly becomes accustom with her role in society. The narrator and
her brother symbolize the roles of males and females in that society. The
narrator is forced into doing jobs that she doesn't enjoy doing, namely that
associated with women's work at the time. Laird is allowed to do what he
pleases. Laird is the lord, as a male he is deemed as the more important of the
two, simply because of his sex, while the narrator cast into her womanly role,
being of secondary importance.
1 Munro, Alice, "Boys and Girls," Introduction to literature, eds. Gillian
Thomas et al, third ed. (Toronto: Hardcourt Brace, 1995), p. 528 All subsequent
references will be from this edition and will be cited in the text.