Analytical essay on Boys and Girls story
Alice Munro authors the “Boys and Girls” to explore on a case of a young lady who opposes the perceptions of womanhood in the society. The idea behind the story is that when emotional issues challenge children, they formulate new strategies of understanding their identity as they develop into adults. The principal character in the novel exposes the transitions she undergoes in life. At the beginning of the story, the narrator seems unaware of her gender roles, hence acts without care on herself. She starts to learn about her gender from the way her family treats and perceives her young womanhood. Eventually, she acknowledges that there are inevitable changes in society, hence cultivates a new understanding of her identity (Marlene 63). Although the younger girl lacks identity, Munro identifies her brother as Laird, which can be interpreted as ‘Lord.’ The author significantly hides the narrator’s identity to explore how society had an unequal perception of men and women. The scenario that the younger brother has a big name while the narrator is unknown exposes how the community treated men to be superior to women. The story is set in the 1940s, a time when the society supported practices of gender inequality.
Munroe sets his story in a society whereby men and women are treated unequally. Men dominated the women in the house. While men were attached to traditional duties outside the home, women performed their duties in the house. The narrator describes how her mother remained in the house to undertake her traditional roles. She mentions that the mother could only be found outside the house when performing tasks like digging in the garden and washing (Marlene 63). The narrator was not interested in the roles of women, which made it challenging for her to accept the role she was expected to undertake in the future. She enjoyed accompanying her father outside to work the functions she termed essential in the society (Page 3). However, she was bored with inside roles despite the efforts of her mother to introduce her to the tasks she was expected to undertake as a woman. It sounds ironical for the narrator to be more interested in leading the males’ roles than working the duties of women in society.
The author explores how the issue of stereotyping influenced gender roles. The father did not consider the narrator of any substantial help because she was a lady. The indication of this is that positions in society are assigned concerning one’s gender. The salesman supports this in his statement, “Could have fooled me; I thought it was only a girl” (page 4). The narrator’s efforts were hardly recognized even if she performed better than her younger brother in work. Although the narrator was restricted to stay indoors, Laird was allowed to undertake the duties he enjoyed from outside. The narrator also reveals the scenario she had planned to put her younger in trouble by luring him to climb to the barn top. Contrary to her expectation, her parents got mad at her but showed love to Laird as they rescued him from the danger. The parents expressed their excellent care for their son and believed that he could not get into wrongs. This situation is a mirror of how men are perceived to be always right in society.
About the story
The story reveals men as superior to women in society. Laird, although younger than her sister, has more powers than her at home. Their mother tells the narrator, “Wait till Laird gets a little bigger, then you’ll have a real help” (page 4). Their father is the overall voice of the society. Even when Laird started to demonstrate sex-determined superiority, he respected the words from the father. He heeded to the father’s words when he instructed him to wash the blood off. Although he got his mother’s complaints, Laird only did what his father told him. Thus, the father is exposed as the authoritarian leader in the family, with the mother being the secondary. The older women played a significant role inside the home of advising the young girls. The narrator’s grandmother had visited their home and used to recommend her on the expected code of behavior for girls in society. She informed her, “Girls keep their knees together when they sit down” (page 6).
The story is a symbol of the society, where the narrator represents the women while Laird represents the roles of and men in the community. The narrator is subjected to functions she does not enjoy, just because she is a lady. She is restricted to stay at home and perform the roles associated with women. Contrariwise, her younger brother is exposed to freedom of choosing whatever job she wishes to do. He is permitted to work outside and do what he enjoys. Laird plays a male role in society. Being the lord, Laird is expressed to be stronger than his older sister. On the other hand, the narrator has a secondary significance in playing the roles of women in society.
Marlene Goldman, “Penning in the Bodies: The Construction of Gendered Subjects in Alice Munro’s ‘Boys and Girls,'” in Studies in Canadian Literature, Vol. 15, No. 1, 1990, pp. 62-75.
Munro, Alice. Boys and girls. Atlantis Films, 1983.
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