Boys and Girls by Alice Munro

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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
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Although seemingly unimportant to the storyline, the presence of the foxes and horses play a major role in the story, as they symbolize the sides of the conflict between conformity and self image. The foxes represent conformity; they all live in the same routine, are controlled by others in their environment, and are both literally and metaphorically locked in a cage. The narrator’s environment is much like the foxes, controlling. Her parent’s subtle hints, whether it be her mother’s comments or her father’s tasks, are slowly but surely enclosing on her like a cage, and will soon trap her.
The horses however, try as hard as they can, much like the narrator, to roam free for as long as possible, seemingly unaware of the forces acting against them in an attempt to deny them their freedom. For the horses, this force was the narrator’s father, who felt that they had a purpose to be served, in the narrator’s case, it was her mother’s thought that she had a place to be served as well; inside the home. In the case of the foxes and horses, neither win, as they both die in the end, much like people. However, although the horse’s lives end much sooner, they get to experience something that the foxes do not, and that is freedom. The protagonist’s desire for freedom is clearly desirable as she expresses her resistance to conform to societies ideals by continuing to do things against the norm, “thinking that by such measures [she] kept