Gender Roles In Alice Munro’s Boys And Girls

1474 words - 6 pages

Whether it is the past or the present, there have always been gender roles in society. In most homes, it is the woman’s responsibility to take care of the house. This includes cleaning, meal preparations, raising and taking care of the children as well as the husband. Compared to the men who take care of the more physical activities, such as yard work. It was known throughout many years that it was a woman’s responsibility to stay in the house while the man would go out and look for work to provide money for his family. Although the intensity of gender roles has changed, it still exists.

In Alice Munro’s short story “Boys and Girls”, the author explains the transition from being a tomboy girl to becoming a woman. The protagonist is sceptical about becoming a young woman; she would much rather work at the farm with her father. When he would ask her to complete a task, it would get done well because she would do anything for him. “Nevertheless I worked willingly under his eyes, and with a feeling of pride.” (774) Set side by side with her mother, the narrator would hate working in the house. Therefore, when it came to her mother, the girl thought that she was plotting against her; all to keep her away from working with her father. “She was plotting now to get me to stay in the house more, although she knew I hated it (because she knew I hated it) and keep me from working for my father.” (775) Many would say that it was a woman’s duty to work inside due to her being soft and delicate compared to a man’s duty to work out in the yard because of his physical strength. The narrator did not know the difference between working inside the house or out in the yard. All she knew was that she wanted to work outside with her father because it was more important than working in the house. “It seemed to me that work in the house was endless, dreary and particularly depressing; work done out of doors, and in my father’s service, was ritualistically important.” (775) Although the narrator would much rather stay a tomboy and work for her father, she has not learnt yet that it is her burden to stay in the house.

There are many differences between a boy and a girl. Usually when they are young, the parents let them do what they desire within reason. As they grow older, it is the mother’s assignment to show the daughter how to become a woman, and it is the fathers to show the son how to become a man. In “Boys and Girls”, the narrator is older than her brother. Therefore, she is gratefully doing the son’s duties until he has grown up and matured. “Wait until Laird gets a little bigger, then you’ll have real help.” (775) The lead character did not like this idea at all. She enjoys working with her father out in the yard, and does not want to be a girl, but more a tomboy as a result that she does not have to work in the house. That is why she goes outside during any chance she attains. “I just get my back turned and she runs off. It’s not like I had a girl in...

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