Response Journal For "Boys And Girls" By Alice Munro

1257 words - 5 pages

Alice Munro's "Boys and Girls" tries to view a young girl's rite of passage into womanhood, through a limited feminist perspective. The narrator battles with conformity on a 1940's Canadian Fox Farm. As this time period was still centred on male dominance, her desire to become a powerful woman wastes away when she finally submits to the rules that society has imposed on her.The story is written in first person narration and is seen through the eyes of a young and free-spirited girl. The themes of this story are self-discovery, stereotypes, and rebellion. To portray these themes, literary devices such as allusion, similes and situational irony were used. Allusion is present in the line "his favourite book in the world was Robinson Crusoe," as the author attempts to portray the father's inventive nature by relating it to a well-known novel. Similes can be seen in the narrator's descriptions of her environment as she states that the "snowdrifts curled around the house like sleeping whales," to bring to attention the howling of the winds. Situational irony is evident throughout the story because the narrator despises her mother for being a woman and working in the house, but in the end, she too develops into a woman and takes on the roles of the title.This story of inequality between the sexes appropriately opens with a detailed account of the narrator's father. The narrator describes every aspect of her father's life, including his occupation, and even his friends. Throughout this first part of the story, the narrator's mother is virtually inexistent, outside her disapproval of her husband's pelting business. The reader is left uncertain about the mother's whereabouts, but is aware that the father figure is somewhat of an idol in the narrator's mind.As a young girl, the narrator, holding on to her carefree spirit and strong sense of individualism, is unaware of the constraints of her gender. Although she is the main character, the narrator is not given a name. This seems to enhance her lack of purpose in society, and stresses that the attitude of the narrator is not that of just one woman, but women in general. Munro's decision to allow the narrator to remain nameless assists in the progress and significance of the character.The narrator's brother, however, is given the name of Laird. Synonymous with "lord," the boy's name plays an important role in outlining the rules society has forced upon the narrator. This name symbolizes society's favouritism towards men, and how the male child was superior in the eyes of the parents. The fact that the narrator remained anonymous, whilst her brother was given the name of Lord, signifies the difference between the sexes at the time.It is quite odd that Munro used the girl to portray the feelings of female stereotyping of this story. Munro captures the attention of her audience through the lines, "It was an odd thing to see my mother down at the barn. She did not often come out of the house unless it was to do...

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