GENDER ROLES IN ‘BOYS AND GIRLS’ SAMPLE ESSAY
Posted by: Write My Essay on: October 18, 2017
In Alice Munro’s “Boys and Girls,” she discusses how a girl can have a society’s unwritten rules decide her life. The story is about the role women are given in the world. In the story, society does not think that men and women are equal. This essay will discuss that dynamic. Throughout the story, various details come out about the inferior role that women were given over men.
One example of the role that is given to women in the story is the act of being essentially tied to the kitchen. Throughout the story, the women are consistently tied to the house and are expected to perform the roles that are stereotypically given to women. Along with this role, the males were perceived as being the dominant figures in the household. They would perform the tasks that were more typically labelled as being masculine. “My father removed the pelt inside-out from the body of the fox, which looked surprisingly small, mean, and rat-like, deprived of its arrogant weight of fur” (1). This role that is given to men is stereotypical of the times, and Munroe establishes the time period by simply relaying the details of the actions of each gender. She does not need to specifically state the date, because the time period is indicated by the actions of the men and women in the story. The dynamic between the men and women in the story is also expressed when the narrator says: “I shot two rabid wolves who were menacing the schoolyard (the teachers cowered terrified at my back)” (2). This shows the roles of the men and women, and the attitudes they portrayed. The teachers were all very likely women, and they were being portrayed by the narrator as being scared about him killing the wolves. He is portrayed here as the strong man who is looking out for the school by killing the wolves, and the teachers are portrayed as being weak, and of needing the man to take care of the tough tasks.
The women were not only portrayed as being weak, but they were also portrayed as not coming out of the house very often. Thus, this story puts not only the stereotypical emotional qualities onto women, but also the tasks that they were executing in this story. “She did not often come out of the house unless it was to do something – hang out the wash or dig potatoes in the garden” (4). The text goes on to describe what this condition had done to the narrator’s mother. She looked as though she was out of place when she was outside, the text explains. She had bare lumpy legs, and they did not appear as though they had seen the sun in a considerable amount of time. Her apron was still on her body, and this is likely an addition to the story so that there is the representation of what the position of women was meant to be at the time. They were responsible for doing the household chores, and those often involved wearing an apron. These tasks were not performed because his mother wanted to do them; instead, they were important because he father wanted her to do the chores. “It seemed to me that work in the house was endless, dreary, and peculiarly depressing; work done out of doors, and in my father’s service, was ritualistically important” (4).
“Boys and Girls” provides a clear look at the traditional dynamics between men and women. It shows that there were not many options for women at the time because their husbands provided for them. This typically meant that they felt they had to do what was expected of them, and this often meant that they were destined to perform menial tasks, such as working in the home, and not participating in any of what was considered to be “manly” activities. Many of these roles are still apparent today, but the main difference between then and now is that the women did not have much of an option about what they were doing. As the narrator put it, his mother was essentially performing her tasks due to the fact that it was expected of her from the father. The story brings up many important points about where we have come as a society, but the dynamic between men and women in the story and the way that men and women interact in contemporary times is still a reality for many women. This is likely particularly true for women living in rural areas, where there the number of tasks is often higher than what they are in the city. For example, some families still need to hunt or fish, and this is a task typically reserved for men. In these households the stereotypical role of women is very much like it is in the novel; however, mainstream society has managed to change these dynamics.
Munro, A. (n.d.). Boys and Girls. Rockyview.