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"Boys and Girls" by Alice Munro
Transcript of "Boys and Girls" by Alice Munro
discuss gender roles in 2 clips
South Western Ontario
"There was no wild country here... only farms" (57)
- "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
[for working, "odd to see mother" here (49)] and
(domestic chores and fur operation) - within house 3 floors
"the cellar was white-washed, and lit by a hundred-watt bulb over the worktable"(45)
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),
"We were not afraid of
... We were afraid of
, the room where we slept" (46)
also fox pen- only father ever enters (48)
"I ran out of the house" (49).
personal opinions not omitted-
3rd person- maybe find out more about
opinions of other characters
like parents and brother
-"What my father said I did not hear" (50).
- discussing personal experiences "The winter I was 11 years old...." (51).
Canadian author from Wingham, Ontario
-Jubilee is based on Wingham
-father was a fox and minx farmer
Recent Nobel Prize in Literature award recipient
"Boys and Girls"
Map and picture of Wingham, Ontario
had formerly seemed to mean innocent and unburdened, like the word
; 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).
- 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).
- 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).
-"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
- Laird and narrator both grow up as the story progresses
We are going to hold up articles of clothing and items, you tell us if they are for "boys" or "girls"
- 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
-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)
Unlike our character, this squirrel has the
freedom to be who it wants.