In Alice Munro’s “Boys and Girls” inequality is a proven actionthroughout the story.
Gender roles and stereotypes is what occur whenthe role or behavior is taught to a person as appropriate to theirgender. Alice Munro shows us in the story that in a second someone canchange based off of what someone else thinks they should be and do.For example in the short story it shows us that women should be in thekitchen and men should be outside working in the fields and providingfor his family. When reading a poem entitled “Gender Inequality” byElla Linero, it tells us that men and women are put into a systemwhere gender inequality is being ruled in the world. That men andwomen had to act a certain way and that women should be feminine whileon the other hand men should only be masculine. The time in which theshort story “Boys and Girls” took place was a time when men and womenwere not equal. Mothers had traditional roles, which often left themworking in the house while men also had their roles outside of thehouse.
The male was the dominate figure while the woman had to besubservient. You didn’t see women outside unless they had to gooutside and does something for example, hang the clothes on wires andso on. Gender Inequality took a toll on women in the early 1950’s.In the short story “Boys and Girls” the main character is a younggirl who struggles within herself and also has external struggles asher father tries to change who she is and force her into a gender rolethat he thinks is important. Munro does not give the girl a name andby doing this the protagonist is seen as someone who has no identityand no power. This little girl in the story helps her father in theirfox breading farm which she enjoyed so much. Sadly that all changedfor her as she got older and her help wasn’t needed.
The narrator hadproblems coming in to terms with the role she was to lead. She wantedto work outside with her father doing the work that she only knew todo and this work was so important to her. But sadly the narratorsmother tried to her in to work inside the house which I would say towing her off of what she enjoyed so much in the fox farm. The narratordidn’t like being in the house doing what her mother was doing. Thenarrator says “I hated the hot dark kitchen in the summer” (P. 156#14). Although the narrator enjoyed working with her father she was inno way considered any help to him only because she was female. Herfather wanted her to help the mother and wanted her younger brotherwho in the story goes by the name of Laird help.
The narrator could domuch more than her brother could but it was needed that she would bereplaced “Wait till Laird gets a little bigger, then you’ll have areal help” ( P.156 #14), says the mother speaking to the father.Laird on the other hand didn’t have to do so much of what the narratorwas forced to do, he could go out and do what he wanted. For examplein the story when Flora the family horse runs away, Laird was invitedto join their father and the assistant to get the horse but thenarrator had to stay home.
Laird was treated for fairly by the parentsthan the narrator was. The narrator set back and thought of a timewhere she manipulated Laird to go up to the barn only to get him introuble but in the end that didn’t work out, the parents came and gotLaird before he was hurt and instead of him getting in trouble she wasthe one who ended up in trouble. This here in the short story showsthat the parents only cared so much about the son then they did theirdaughter.
Laird in their eyes could do absolutely no wrong. Thisreflects back on society’s notion and how men were always the onesthat were right. They only came to the barn to see if Laird was okayand when I say they it was the mother, father and their grandmother,the mother began to cry asking the narrator “why weren’t you watchinghim?” (P.159 #45) She was left with the responsibility to watch herbrother and they didn’t think twice to ask her if she was okay.As we speak of the grandmother here in the short story she was one ofthe greatest examples of how women were thought of in this century.The grandmother was from a time where people were a lot more stern andstrict towards women and how they conducted themselves.
The narrator’sparents are on a much lighter scale of strictness than the grandmotherwas and she was much more out-spoken than the narrator’s parents. Theonly thing that was really spoken from the grandmother was the thingsshe would teach the narrator about when she was a child. During thetime of this short story, girls were expected to be gentle andfeminine, while boys/men were expected to be the rough and tumble one.”Girls don’t slam doors like that.” “Girls keep their knees togetherwhen they sit down” and when the narrator asked questions the responseshe got wasn’t right, “That’s none of girls’ business.” (P.
158 #23)this treatment that she received frustrated her because I couldimagine it wasn’t fair. She then begins to continue doing what theysaid wasn’t right of her. “I continued to slam doors and sit asawkwardly as possible…” (P. 158 #23) says the narrator. She wanted tobe free within herself but unfortunately the narrator in did not keepherself free. She instead began to change and conform to what societysaid she should be.
According to the poem, “Gender Inequality” by EllaLinero women were said to “Move graceful, gentle, elegant, andFEMINNE” “As society tells her, she is a woman, and that is her role”(Linero, lines 8-9). Women were mandated to do as society says and ifthey didn’t do what was said they were either labeled and or rejected.The narrator’s belief that she can be of a great need to her father isnow destoryed because she then realises that society’s view andexpectations of her.The young girl tries to find her own identity because she does notwant to be an ordinary girl who is just traditional. This is evidentwhen the protagonist talks about her mother and the work that hermother performs. Here in the short story the narrator doesn’t find hermothers work quit important or should I say as interesting as herfather’s work. She considers the work her mother does as “endless,dreary, and peculiarly depressing” (P.
156 #14) while her father’swork is “ritualistically important” (P.156 #14). The narrator does notwant to be a inside girl who just stays doing what her mother does,she wants to be outside where she can be free so that she can make adifference and express herself. This is very evident when the narratortalks about the stories she tells to herself at night before she goesto sleep.