Essay about Only a Girl in Boys and Girls by Alice Munro

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Only a Girl in Boys and Girls Alice Munro's short story, "Boys and Girls," explores the different roles of men and women in society through a young girl's discovery of what it means to be a girl. A close examination of the elements of a short story as they are used in "Boys and Girls" helps us to understand the meaning of the story. The story is set in the 1940s, on a fox farm outside of Jubilee, a rural area only twenty miles away from the county jail. The farm is a place that reflects the ingenuity of the narrator's father. The pens for the foxes are arranged in neat rows, inside a high guard fence like a "medieval town". The pens each contain a kennel, a wooden ramp, and dishes attached to the wire fence. The fox farm is the…show more content…
The only other dynamic character is Laird, her little brother. At the beginning of the story he is very young and obeys his big sister, no matter what she tells him to do; at the end, he too has grown up somewhat and no longer accepts her authority unquestioningly. He puts an end to their bedtime singing ceremony when he tells her, "You sound silly," and tells on her when she lets the horse escape. Laird is the only character beside Henry Bailey that is given a name. His name, a Scotch form of the title "Lord," demonstrates his importance to the family, as the only boy, and his place in society, which will have more respect for him than for his sister. Yet, in the story it is evident that the narrator is just as good a worker as her brother-far better, because of her advantage in age. It is only because she is a girl that her mother expects her to be a help inside the house, not outside of it. The other characters are the narrator's father, her mother, and the hired hand, Henry Bailey. Henry is someone whom the children admire for his "ability to make his stomach growl at will, and for his laughter, which was full of high whistlings and gurglings and involved the whole faulty machinery of his chest," and for other characteristics that adults might find vulgar, but that are wondrous and exciting to the children. The father is a creative, inventive man and a hard worker, who keeps his thoughts to himself but, in the narrator's opinion, can be depended upon. The mother is a
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