Brian NatalieProfessor Blah blah blahEnglish ?1-26-31Boys and Girls In Alice Muro’s short story, Boys and Girls, a coming of age story blossoms before us.
The young girl who narrates the short story is faced with the challenges of gender roles and growing up, a position very much known to us all. Over the course of her learning her position in the family, the young narrator realizes how little is expected of her and every other woman. Through the extensive use of frame narrative, repetition, and character foil, Muro develops tells a story that dissects the way society frames our livelihoods.It’s no surprise that this story takes place during a less progressed time in history. The text doesn’t explicitly state when this story takes place, but there is evidence that it is somewhere around the 1950’s. During this time in history, women were seen as less than men.
The stories that are most memorable to the narrator display how prominent gender roles are in that time, and how she often was looked down upon solely for being a girl. We get a better look at the way she interprets these life events through the author’s technique of frame narrative. Muro takes the narrators larger more impactful story and makes it more impactful by integrating smaller pieces of the narrator’s life. For example, the narrator begins the story with an incredibly detailed memory of her and her brother watching their father “pelting” the foxes that he raises. This specific memory of them before Christmas introduces the family business, character traits, and reveals how dedicated the narrator is to her father’s craft. The flash narrative gives a good comparison of how her life was before and after childhood. Most of the time her flashback memories place, the narrator and her brother were almost equals. In her past, the narrator clearly takes pride in possessing masculine traits, and even enjoys being taken as a boy by a salesman in this excerpt, ” One time a salesman came down into the pens to talk to him and my father said.
“Like to have you meet my new hired man.” I turned away and raked furiously, red in the face with pleasure. “Could of fooled me,” said the salesman. “I thought it was only a girl.””.
It’s no wonder she would prefer to be associated with a boy when she is clearly seen as more valuable if she is male.The second technique Muro uses to tell the narrator’s story is repetition. The way the narrator mentions key points or images multiple times during the story reveals things about her life that are important to her and how she grows. For instance, her father’s bloody clothes are mentioned 3 times throughout the story. The three times it is noticed by the narrator, it almost signals a transition in her family role. In the beginning, the bloody apron is simply an observation, something she is used to from helping her father with the foxes. She is still a child during this time, not too different from a boy her age, and she enjoys the familiarity of butchery. The bloody apron is mentioned again after the conversation between her mother and father, when the narrator’s household role is threatened.
The narrator feels that she cannot trust her mother, and she despises the labels and reputation that comes with being a girl. She now is beginning the transition into a different role, one that she must be groomed into. The third time that the bloody clothes are mentioned is after the narrator let the horse “Flora” escape. By this time in the story, her brother “Laird” seems to have grown and adopted her place, and the narrator spends her time taking on more feminine activities. The narrator has barely realized how much has changed until they come back to the house and she is confronted about the incident. Finally after they sit down at the table to eat dinner, Laird reveals that the narrator purposefully left the gate open for Flora to escape.
At first the father is angry, and the narrator awaits to be punished or dismissed from the room. But instead of being mad, her father gives up, “”Nevermind, my father said. He spoke with resignation, even good humour, the words which absolved and dismissed me for good.
“She’s only a girl,” he said.”