Importance Of Gender Roles In "Boys & Girls" And "Happy Endings Part B": Munro Vs. Atwood

1152 words - 5 pages

Gender roles have changed significantly throughout time as illustrated in the short stories "Boys & Girls" and "Happy Endings Part B". These changes can be attributed to the implementation of women's rights, economic changes, and the way society is now educated on equality. In the 1930s two prominent female writers, Margaret Atwood & Alice Munro, dealt with how society is often responsible for shaping a person's ideas and beliefs about women. In her short story "Boys & Girls", Munro shows a young girl's struggle with traditional values to try and become a powerful female figure in the society. Atwood's "Happy Endings Part B" deals with how society and stereotypes make a young woman feel insecure and unwanted. Both authors capture the struggle of the female characters in their respective stories."Boys & Girls" deals with a young girl, the narrator, who is not aware of the limitations of being a female during this time period. The young girl is not named in the story, which makes her seem insignificant to the world and that she has no purpose in life. Her brother's name was Laird, which is also a synonym for lord , this further supports the argument of how the son was superior to the daughter during this time. Early in the story the narrator is shown as a very smart individual who has a broad imagination. She believed that she could achieve anything that she imagined in her dreams, but she was unaware of the female stereotypes she would have to eventually be accustomed to and have to follow. She considers herself to be a tom boy, she wants to work and spend time outside with her father but her family is trying to tell her to do things that "proper" young girls do. When her grandmother came down she was constantly nag the narrator, saying things as "Girls don't slam doors like that" and "Girls keep their knees together when they sit" (497). But, she would start slamming doors harder and tried to sit as awkwardly as possible because she believed it would keep her from having the stereotypes forced upon her, as a young girl she is still unaware of the role society already has ready for her. The importance of gender roles in this story is best represented through Flora, one of her father's horses. One afternoon her father planned to kill Flora, the horse started to run away, and the narrator's father told her to shut the gate but she left it open so that the horse could escape. She thought that the horse would get away, but she then realized that Flora would eventually be caught and killed, and that the horse could run away but ultimately it would be caught and killed. This is when the narrator realized how society already has a role for her and as much as she tried she could not do anything to change that. This was a key point in the story because the narrator didn't want to see Flora get killed and gave up hope in doing what she believed was right. She then went inside the house and decided to help her mother with dinner. This is...

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