Gender Roles In Boys And Girls By Alice Munro

Words: 519
Pages: 3

Alice Munro’s “Boys and Girls” immerses us into the rural countryside of Jubilee, Ontario, Canada, and into the life of an ambitious eleven year-old tomboy. The story unfolds as she struggles to define herself and break free from societies expectations. The narrative takes place in a post World War II society in the 1940’s during which women were viewed as second-class citizens. The time period provides the reader with an understanding of the cultural acceptability of gender specific roles and as the short story progresses we see how these cultural ideas begin to affect the protagonist and her identity. Throughout the story she begins to learn a lesson concerning social pressures and expectations in society, and that society’s expectations concerning gender code are undeniably evident. “Boys and Girls” is a prime example of how family and cultures largely affect and change who we grow up to be, and what we are conditioned to find socially acceptable.

In the 1900’s the difference between
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Any veering away from these definitions would have disrupted the balance of the culture completely. A man-playing housewife was absurd, and a woman being the sole provider for the family was bizarre. According to Boys and Girls there are things women should not be doing as defined by their genders. The narrator, a young girl, feels more inclined to spend her time outside alongside her father. “I worked willingly under his eyes, and with a feeling of pride”. She finds place in a mans world, outdoors in her fathers domain. While she is a female, she does not relate herself to things of feminine nature. She describes her mother’s housework as “endless” compared to her fathers, which was “ritualistically important.” By using many different literary tools such as character development, symbolism, and setting, Alice Munro’s Boys and Girls challenges this controversial topic of the treatment of women versus men in the early 1900’s. Munro uses the setting