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Reaction Paper - Fiction: Short Stories

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"Boys and Girls," (Alice Munro, pp. 772-781) Fiction: Short Story.

The story of, "Boys' and Girls'' exemplifies a female, "Coming of age" tale or an initiation story. The protagonist, a transformed tomboy, narrators her life on a fox farm and her quest for gender identity and acceptance (Barnet & Cain, 2011, p. 772-781).

As I explore symbolism, I noticed the story's evocative title and I can personally relate to story as, the repetition of "girl" throughout the text reiterates the importance of gender roles and dynamics within the story. In addition, the story discusses the parallels and symbolism between the girl and Flora the horse, both desired for freedom and individuality. The girl, like the horse, desires freedom from society's rigid pressures and stereotypes of girls. However, like Flora, and her ultimate death, the girl, too, must accept her own fate to be a proper woman in 1940s Canadian life.

The climax of the story occurs when the girl frees a horse that was about to be shot but demonstrates that she is, "Only a girl" as her father comments (Barnet & Cain, 2011, p. 772-781). She reflects, "Instead of shutting the gate, I opened it as wide as I could" (Barnet & Cain, 2011, p. 772-781). I did not make any decision to do this; it was just what I did. Flora never slowed down; she galloped straight past me, and Laird jumped up and down, yelling, "Shut it, shut it!" even after it was too late (Barnet & Cain, 2011, p. 772-781). She added, my father and Henry appeared in the field a moment too late to see what I had done. They only saw Flora heading for the township road. They would think I had not got there in time" (Barnet & Cain, 2011, p. 772-781).

Applying feminist theory in the story, I am able to see how the character shows her masculine qualities in her everyday life and daydreams. For example, she stated that, "I rescued people from a bombed building; it discouraged me that the real war had gone on so far away from Jubilee" (Barnet & Cain, 2011, p. 772-781). She continued by saying that she shot two rabid wolves that were menacing the schoolyard and the teachers cowered terrified at my back. She rode a fine horse spiritedly down the main street of Jubilee, acknowledging the townspeople's gratitude for some yet-to-be-worked-out piece of heroism where no one ever rode a horse there, except King Billy in the Orangeman Day parade (Barnet & Cain, 2011, p. 772-781).

These episodes denote her desire for gender equality in life. Her love of outdoor activities with her farther also represents her desire to escape traditional female stereotypes and roles. By working with her farther, she reveals her ability to complete men's work. In contrast, she despises indoor tasks with her mother. She describes her mother's kitchen as "hot"



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