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Boys & Girls by Alice Munro
Transcript of Boys & Girls by Alice Munro
Symbolism & Imagery
Alice Munro is a Canadian author born in 1931. Her stories often reflect her childhood experience growing up here in Southwestern Ontario.
A common theme often found in Munros early work was the struggles and challenges faced by adolescent girls. In a recent radio broadcast, Munro claims that the first 20 years of her life were the most difficult and she survived mostly by using her imagination.
Munro, similar to the main character of Boys and Girls, grew up on a farm with her mother and father, a fox and mink farmer.
Dina Kadri, Fatima Abdisalam, Edgardo Alvarez
Theme:Male oppression against woman during the 1930's
Alice Munro (1931)
This theme describes the oppression against women, and how mistreated they are during this era. In the story
Boys and Girls
, the main character is mistreated due to her female gender; she is expected to be devoted in domestic roles like her mother, but instead she works around the house with her father. These actions are against the stereotypical role of women and men during this era. Women are seen as inferior to men. In fact, in the story she mentions “the word girl had formerly seemed to mean innocent and unburdened…A girls was not as I supposed. It was a definition touched with emphasis, reproach and disappointment” (Munro 355). This quote emphasis the role of women in society and how discriminated and mistreated they were in this era.
- The story is written by a female author, Alice Munro
- The protagonist is a young female character withe narrative of looking back at her past
- Written in first person
-Struggling with female identity &
also self identity
- Incite into the protagonists inner voice
- Has to come to reason with the gender role forced upon her
-Majority of the symbols/ imagery in story relate to themes of: struggle with inner self, loss of innocence, & society's gender roles
Dark & Light Imagery
- Description of bedroom is dark, represents the unknown
- They state how frightened they are when its dark
- But in contrast, they talk about light making them feel safe
Both represent characters in the story:
- Mack represents the innocence of Laird
- Mack's death changes Laird's character
-Flora represents the freedom seeking & spirit of the protagonist
-Both struggling to be free from the fate they are expected to follow
- Both strong female characters
Flora & Mack Symbolism
WINTER - represents death; the foxes, the horses, & also the spirit of the protagonist
SPRING - represents the new beginnings of the protagonist that she has to accept
Person vs Society
- All the characters associated with the girl are seen as her personal antagonists
- They all represent society
- They all do there part in pushing toward her assigned "gender role"
- Begins to accept the fact that this the reality she was set for
We are introduced to a 10 year old tomboy, who has lived her entire life with no conception of gender roles, until one day when a salesman is talking to her father and she is jokingly referred to as "the new hired man".
The young girl overheard her parents talking one day while doing chores. She overheard mention that her little brother, Laird, would one day help more, undermining everything that she already does. She is also insulted when her mom mentions she feels although she does not have a girl in the house. She feels betrayed by her mother.
Two horses waiting to be slaughtered are brought to the barn where the children name and care for them over the winter months
The girl begins to notice a lot of mention on the theme of the stereotypical girl
The girl and her brother are physically fighting and regardless of using all her strength, she stills manages to get hurt
The grandmother who comes to visit for a few weeks, begins criticizing the girls manners and actions which were not appropriate for a female in this era
As the girls father and hired man, Harry, are preparing to kill one of the horses, Laird is sent out of the stable to keep him from witnessing the gory scene, the girl is told to “go on up and play around the house.” Where she would be in earshot of her mother inside.
The kids hide in the stable where they are able to witness the horse being shot, the young girl seems to be shaken up after the fact. Laird does not seem effected by the scene they just witnessed.
When Flora is running towards the protagonist, she is supposed to close the gate to keep the horse from escaping, but instead she throws the gate open for Flora to escape and run free.
The girl’s father, Henry, and Laird chase down Flora by truck while the girl returns to the house where her mother is.
She begins to question why she even opened the gate because either way, Flora would be killed.
She also begins to notice a change in herself. She notices she has been thinking differently lately. She has become more in touch with her feminine side.
The father returns home with horse meat. Flora has been killed and her brother jokes that they chopped her up in 50 pieces.
Laird exposes his sister for freeing the horse, and when their father begins to get angry the young girl begins to cry.
She begins to realize that she has to accept her fate, she no longer protests the stereotypes. “She’s only a girl” (Munro, 360) states her father when she begins to cry in the end. “I didn’t protest that, even in my heart. Maybe it was true.” is her internal response. She has had a change of heart and she comes to accept her role as a girl.
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