Boys and Girls by Alice Munro

1683 Words Jun 10th, 2006 7 Pages
Since the beginning of time, gender roles have existed in society. Women are assigned the tasks of food preparation and childcare, while men perform most activities that require physical strength. Struggles against society's ideas of how gender roles should be, as well as threats of a feminist influence on some issues are found in "Boys and Girls" composition written by Alice Munro. In this story, the main character, who appears to be an unnamed girl, faces her awakening body and the challenge of developing her social identity in a man's world. Through first-person narration, Munro shows the girl's views of femininity by describing the girl's interpretations of her parents shaped by indoor and outdoor territoriality, criticism and …show more content…
Over all, the narrator's parents demonstrate stereotypical male and female roles in the house, which shape the girl's identity in a certain way where she likes her dad's character more and wants to be like him even though she is a girl. Slowly but surely, as a result of these spatial arrangements, the narrator's position on the outside and identification with her father is threatened by society and family members. The first threat is delivered by the father's hired hand, Henry Bailey who throughout the story points out flaws in the narrator and constantly reminds her she is girl and should not be involved in male activities. For example when he comes across the narrator and her brother fighting, Bailey laughs and says, "Oh, that there Laird's gonna show you, one of these days!" (497). Another threat arrives from a salesman when the father introduces his daughter to him as a "new hired man" (494). The salesman reacts to the threat of her presence by treating the father's remark as a joke, "could have fooled me, I thought it was only a girl" (494) where the word "only" implies that girls are unimportant and not strong enough to help around the farm. Other challenges to the narrator's connection to the father and her right to occupy the male space come from within the household itself. The girl begins to feel like an outcast when the female family members begin to intimidate her. For example, the grandmother tells her, "girls don't slam doors like that" (497) trying
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