Gender Roles Through History

Genders role between men and women are always present through history. During the 1930’s the time when this story takes place, men are usually the ones working for the money, and performing all the hard labor, while women are supposed to do all the house work, and behave in a polite manner. In the story “Boys and girls” by Alice Munro the protagonist struggles with societies ideas of how a girl should be. This story is about a girl who prefers helping her father with chores on the field as opposed to helping her mother in the kitchen.

As the story progresses her mentality changes as she starts caring about what she wears, how her hair looks, and doesn’t protest being called a girl. The relationship between men and woman in this story conveys how men see woman as inferior based on what roles society places on them. An incident showing how men see woman as inferior was shown when the mother said to the father ” Wait till Laird gets a little bigger, then you’ll have a real help”. This conveys that men in this society can perform physical labor better than women.

The mother tries to plot ways into getting the girl to help her around the house. Even though the girls doesn’t like helping around the house the mother believes that is what women should be doing. This relates back to what the mother said to the father, because she believes the girl is incapable of helping in the farm. Also shows how the mother fills the roles set for women in this society, and wants to enforce these roles onto the girl. Another incident was when the girl was thinking to herself.

She said “A girl was not, as I had supposed, simply what I was; it was what I had to become”. This statement shows how her mentality was changing throughout the story. At first she was confident and happy helping her father out on the farm. The girl then became unsecure because of all the chatter circulated by her mother to other people, and the constant emphasis of what a ‘girl’ should be. This shows how woman in this society are inferior from the point of view of not only men, but also woman such as the mother.

Another incident was when the girl could have shut the gate on the horse “Flora”, but instead she let the horse run away. When the father found about her letting the horse go from Laird he was frustrated at first, but then commented “She’s only a girl”. This further emphasizes the reality of how ‘girls’ are seen in this society. The girl felt free from guilt through her father’s tone of voice when he commented about her being only a girl. The girl at this point didn’t protest being called a girl, and thought it was possibly true.

The father’s use of words conveys the overall perception of how men felt women in that society. Furthermore gender roles in this story gives a overall view of what men and woman should perform in society. The men in this story are the one working on the farm, and performing all physical labor. The woman such as the mother in this story performs all the kitchen work. These roles are enforced into the girl and also her brother Laird throughout the story. The emphasis of how male see woman as inferior is present from beginning of the story to end through many incidents.

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