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"Boys and Girls" by Alice Munro

Why Alice Munro should win the 'Belleville Short Story Contest"
by

alice munro

on 17 October 2014

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Transcript of "Boys and Girls" by Alice Munro

"Boys and Girls" by Alice Munro deserves to win the Bellville Short Story Competition because she has expertly used her personal writing style to develop elements of the story like setting, narration, and to explore compelling, themes and develop realistic characters.
discuss gender roles in 2 clips
Intro
Setting
Small town
in
South Western Ontario
"There was no wild country here... only farms" (57)
Fox farm
- "the smell of blood and animal fat, with the strong primitive odor of the fox itself, penetrated all parts of the house"(45)
Takes place around 1940-1950
Barn
[for working, "odd to see mother" here (49)] and
house
(domestic chores and fur operation) - within house 3 floors

Cellar
"the cellar was white-washed, and lit by a hundred-watt bulb over the worktable"(45)
Main floor
is warm and friendly seeming however "reminders of the warm, safe, brightly lit downstairs world, seemed lost and diminished, floating on the stale cold air upstairs" (45-46),
Upstairs
"We were not afraid of
outside
... We were afraid of
inside
, the room where we slept" (46)
also fox pen- only father ever enters (48)
Narration
First person
-
"I ran out of the house" (49).
personal opinions not omitted-
biased
3rd person- maybe find out more about
opinions of other characters
like parents and brother
-"What my father said I did not hear" (50).
Conversational tone
- discussing personal experiences "The winter I was 11 years old...." (51).
Alice Munro
Canadian author from Wingham, Ontario
semi autobiographical
-Jubilee is based on Wingham
-father was a fox and minx farmer
Recent Nobel Prize in Literature award recipient
Alice Munro
"Boys and Girls"
Map and picture of Wingham, Ontario
Character Development
Girl
-conforming to
gender stereotypes

"The word
girl
had formerly seemed to mean innocent and unburdened, like the word
child
; now it appeared that it was no such thing. A girl was not, as I had supposed, simply what I was; it was what I had to become. It was a definition, always touched with emphasis, with reproach and disappointment" (51-52).

-at first her father says she is a good worker and then at the end he says she is "'only a girl'" (59).

-Stories she tells herself:
"These stories were about myself, when I had grown a little older; they took place in a world that was recognizably mine, yet one that presented opportunities for courage, boldness and self-sacrifice, as mine never did"(47).

"A story might start off in the old way, with a spectacular danger, a fire or wild animals, and for a while I might rescue people; then things would change around, and instead, somebody would be rescuing me" (58).

Laird
-conforming to
gender stereotypes

- does not have to work hard in order for his family to have great expectations
- name means "Lord"
"Wait till Laird gets bigger, then you will have a real help" (50).
'"That there Laird is going to show you, one of these days!"' (52).
- loosing innocence/ naivety
"Laird did not know enough to tell the truth" (55) vs "'Anyway it was her fault Flora got away"'(58)
"We did not sing at night any more. One night when I was singing Laird said, "You sound silly"'(57).

Themes
Style
Game!!!
*Gender

roles*
- developed by society and conformed to
- Grandmother tells her "'Girls don't slam doors like that"'(52) '"Girls keep their knees together when they sit down"' (52) and when she asks questions '"That's none of a girls' business"' (52) In protest she "continue(s) to slam the doors and sit as awkwardly as possible thinking by such measures I kept myself free" (52).
-Farm work is "important and ritualistic" house work is expected and "depressing"
-"My father did not talk to me unless it was about the job we were doing. In this he was quite different from my mother, who, if she was feeling cheerful, would tell me all sorts of things...." (48)
-"Alive, the foxes inhabited a world my father made for them" (47).- male dominance
-Her mother "did not often come out of the house unless it was to do something" (49).

-still relevant

Death

-"Mack and Flora had been in the stable so long I had almost forgotten they were going to be shot" (52).
-Never expresses sadness for fox deaths
Age & Seniority
-
parents have more power
-she is temporarily allowed to do more than her brother
Growing Up
- Laird and narrator both grow up as the story progresses
Rural life

We are going to hold up articles of clothing and items, you tell us if they are for "boys" or "girls"
Discuss
Symbolism
- horses- representing courage, gender, and people in general
Songs they sing - innocence

Unnamed narrator - lack of identity
Diction- retrospective, informal/ conversational tone
Sentence length- varies
Imagery
-light and dark "[I]t was cold and dark. Thin, crisscrossed beams of sunlight fell through the cracks."
Figurative language - "It was surrounded by a high guard fence, like a medieval town ...."
"A soldiery role of linoleum" (46)
"On our beds, our narrow life rafts" (46)
-more similes than metaphors

Boys vs Girls- definite set of roles in place already

Inside vs Outside- girls in, boys out. Inside is where the women are in place. "she looked out of place, with her bare lumpy legs, not touched by the sun" (49) Men stay outside in the barn working

Upstairs vs Downstairs- "warm, safe brightly lit"(45) upstairs vs the "stale cold" downstairs (45-46).

Light vs Dark- "When the light was on, we were safe" (46) in the dark "no place was safe" (46)


Contrasting Elements
Unlike our character, this squirrel has the
freedom to be who it wants.
Full transcript