Boys and Girls Theme
In her story, Boys and Girls, Alice Munro depicts the hardships and successes of the rite of passage into adulthood through her portrayal of a young narrator and her brother. Through the narrator, the subject of the profound unfairness of sex-role stereotyping, and the effect this has on the rites of passage into adulthood is presented. The protagonist in Munro's story, unidentified by a name, goes through an extreme and radical initiation into adulthood, similar to that of her younger brother. Munro proposes that gender stereotyping, relationships, and a loss of innocence play an extreme, and often-controversial role in the growing and passing into adulthood for many young children. Initiation, or the rite of passage into adulthood, is, according to the theme of Munro's story, both a mandatory and necessary experience.
Alice Munro's creation of an unnamed and therefore undignified, female protagonist proposes that the narrator is without identity or the prospect of power. Unlike the narrator, the young brother Laird is named a name that means "lord" and implies that he, by virtue of his gender alone, is invested with identity and is to become a master. This stereotyping in names alone seems to suggest that gender does play an important role in the initiation of young children into adults. Growing up, the narrator loves to help her father outside with the foxes, rather than to aid her mother with "dreary and peculiarly depressing" work done in the kitchen. In this escape from her predestined duties, the narrator looks upon her mother's assigned tasks to be "endless," while she views the work of her father as "ritualistically important". This view illustrates her happy childhood, filled with dreams and fantasy. Her contrast between the work of her father and the chores of her mother, illustrate an arising struggle between what the narrator is expected to do and what she wants to do. Work done by her father is viewed as...
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