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Boys and Girls
Transcript of Boys and Girls
By: Alice Munro
Plot Summary & Literary Terms
Protagonist: (Not Named) She is an unnamed character which symbolized the narrator’s lack of identity.
Brother (Laird): The younger brother, who was given the name Laird, which is a synonym for “Lord”
Father: Was a fox farmer, he raised foxes and when their fur was prime, he skinned them and sold their pelts for profit. Growing up, “the girl” sought for attention from her father, therefore, she began to enjoy helping him work outside with the foxes.
Mother: Was a house wife, the protagonist began to dread working in the kitchen with her mother, and thus loss respect for her mother’s position in the household.
"Flora trotted up and down and reared at the fences, clattering her hooves against the rails"
"When a horse's teeths gone, he's gone. That's about the way."
"The hay was low. It was a rolling country, hills and hollows, slipping under our feet."
"He was wearing a little bulky brown and white checked coat, made down from one of mine."
At times people could not escape societies rules and prejudice so in order to grow up and be accepted by everyone, one must conform and stand up to societies rules.
What were the names of the two horses?
Who was named Laird and what does the name mean?
What type of animal was used for skinning in this story?
In Alice Munro’s “Boys and Girls” she tells a story about a young girl’s resistance to womanhood in a society infested with gender roles and stereotypes. The story takes place around the 1940s on a fox farm. During this time, women were viewed as second class citizens, but the narrator was not going to accept this position without a fight.
Summary of the Story
Man vs Self: The protagonist has inner conflicts with herself, and she is confused in who she is an what role she plays in her family.
Man vs Society: The protagonist has troubles fitting in with her community. She fights her way to get what she wants because society still hasn't accepted "woman" as an equal.
Mack (Horse): Represented Innocence, because he was killed out of "old age" and there was no reason to harm him unless he was extremely sick.
Flora (Horse): Represented freedom, because the protagonist released Flora and sent her free. But in reality she wanted to be free herself.
Pelting Industry: Represented a man's world in which the narrator is not welcomed.
Foxes: Represented society and how every living thing has a role to play.
Point of View
Around the time of 1940 (After the war): "After the war farmers began to buy tractors" page 196
(Seasons in the story)
Spring:"When spring came, the horses were let out in the barnyard.
Summer: "This was my job in summer, when the foxes had to have water twice a day."
Fall: "I walked on stubble in the earlier evening, aware of the reddening skies, the entering silences, of fall."
Winter: "Snow drifts dwindled quickly, revealing the hard grey and brown earth, plain and bare after the fantastic landscape of winter."
First person: (narrator)
She is a young girl, still trying to explore her world. Her actions define her personality as she somehow acts boyish and gets offended when her mother calls her a girl. But in the end, she accepts that "She's only a girl" and she can never change society if they weren't ready to accept (change)
Theme of the Story
Exposition: The protagonists father was introduced as a farmer.The beginning also introduced the very tense atmosphere when the father came inside the house in a blood drenched attire.
The narrator helped the father with farm work and occasionally helps the mother with house work.
Conflict & Rising action: The narrator over hears her mother talking to her father about the work she is doing around the farm and how shes working to much with him instead of doing housework with her. The mother explains how she is taking up to much "work of men" instead of ladylike house work.
Climax: The narrator opens the fence for Flora (Horse) and sets her free. But Flora gets captured and killed in the end.
Falling action: Laird (brother) tells the family that the narrator opened the fence and set Flora free. He exposes her and ultimately ruins her opportunities to be an independent person.
Resolution: "Never mind- she's only a girl." The dad realizes that the mother was right about the narrator being more fit to do house work like all girls should. And they shouldn't be involved in a "mans job."
We would assume that the narrator would get her
wishes and be accepted as an equal to her
brother and all men in general, because of her strong actions and thoughtful thinking. But in the end we see that when she showed a vulnerable spot of herself "weakness" or "sympathy" for others. It caused her family to yet again look at her as just another girl who makes mistakes. Someone who is weak, emotional and not able to live in a world dominated by men.