“Boys and Girls" was originally published in 1968 by Alice Munro, who was a Canadian short story writer. Alice Munro was the first Canadian woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013. Alice Munro had also won the prestigious Governor's General Award for this short story, Boys and Girls.
Here I am going to tell you the characters, outline summary, round vs flat character, setting, narrato's point of view, style, themes, allusion, symbols and moral of this short story.
The characters involved in this short story are:
1) Narrator - 11yrs old girl
2) Laird - Narrator's brother
3) Narrator's father - fox farmer
4) Narrator's mother - housewife
5) Henry Bailey - Farm Helper for Narrator's father, who often annoys the narrator by his laughter.
Before moving to the next part, I just want to ask you a question.
Do you know what is meant by coming-of-age story?
Yes Coming of age story or Bildungsroman, is a specific genre of literature, that mainly focus the growth of a character from lost child to mature adult.
In this short story, Boys and Girls, the author Alice Munro potrayed the journey of the Narrator from being a child to being an adult.
Now let us move to the outline summary of the short story, Boys and Girls
The narrator was a 11 years old girl who lived with her father, mother, and younger brother named Laird in a farm. Her father was a fox farmer, especially he raised the silver foxes, which the narrator and her little brother used to name it. The narrator named the fox as Star, Turk, Maureen, Diana and her father named the fox as Prince, Bob, Wally, Betty and the Narrator's brother named the fox as Harold and Mexico. When the fur of these silver foxes had ripen, the Narrator's father would kill them and sold the skin of the foxes either to Hudson Bay's company or Montreal Fur Traders. So here it was revealed that killing, skinning, feeding, watering all these were an everyday part of the narrator’s life. During summer holidays the narrator always preferred to help her father on the farm outside their house rather than helping her mother in the kitchen. Because the Narrator didn't like to work inside the kitchen. Whenever her mother called to learn cooking and other household works, the Narrator would not obey her mother and she usually went outside the house to help her father in filling the water tank for the fox. While working with her father the Narrator always had thousands of questions but she hesitated to ask him anything since her father didn’t talk much. One day, while working in the farm her father introduced her as the new hired hand to the salesman, it made her very happy and proud since she always looked forward the good compliments from her father.
As the days passed by, the Narrator understood the gender bias and the difference between boys and girls that she observed through three incident.
1) Though her mother and father worked equally inside and outside the house throughout the day, only her father’s work was considered to be more important than her mother's work. Through this the Narrator observed the gender bias of men and women.
2) When the Narrator's grandmother often insisted her to sit properly and not to talk loudly. Here the narrator came to know the gender roles of boys and girls.
3) When her mother told the Narrator that once her younger brother Laird grows up, the Narrator could stop helping her father so that she could help her mother full time in the kitchen whereas her younger brother Laird would help his father on the farm outside the house. Here the narrator learned the gender stereotypes that girls should be always inside the house doing household works.
4) When her younger brother Laird was small, the narrator itself made him to climb the attic and then she complained to her parents. But as the result she was the one who got all the scoldings for not taking care of her little brother. This incident showed how it was always her responsibility to take care of her brother even though she was young too.