Short Story Analysis

"Boys and Girls" By Alice Munro

Critical Biography

Alice Munro was born on July 10, 1931 in Wingham, Ontario. Her family owned a farm and on that farm they raised silver foxes. Munro would find time in her busy day to write in the lunch hour at school, she never let anyone read what she wrote. In 1949 she earned a scholarship to the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario ("Alice Munro").

In the year 1951 she married James Munro and the couple moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, she had three children. James and Alice divorced in 1972 and she got married again in 1976 to Gerald Fremlin. In 1986 she was awarded the Marian Eagle award which is given to a woman writer who has a number of outstanding literary works, Munro also won the Nobel Prize in 2013. Her latest book was written in 2013 and she continues to write today ("Alice Munro").


In “Boys and Girls”, a girl helps her father with work on their fox farm. Her mother says that she should be doing housework, and that when her brother gets older he will be better help on the farm. During the winter months her father buys horses to feed the foxes. He brought in two horses named Flora and Mack; all winter they cared for the horses. At the end of winter it was time for the horses to be killed, Mack was the first to go, Flora broke free and ran. Disobeying her father she held the gate open as Flora escaped. Later that night her father tracked and killed Flora. Her father did not understand why she cried, or left the gate open as her brother said. His response was, “She's only a girl.” This pleased and confirmed her feeling that she was becoming her true self.
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Analysis of Theme

In “Boys and Girls” there is a young girl who helps her father on their farm. Her mother is against her doing hard labor, but the main character does not want to do the work of a woman. The young girl is a hard worker, but what she does is not quite acceptable by her peers, she is pushed into growing up and becoming who she truly is. An example is when her mother says to her, “Wait till Laird grows up, then your father will have some real help” (Munro, Alice). The narrator sees her younger brother as a child and that he does not do anything important, he does not help with with the farm and if he does help it is minuscule work. Even though she is a young girl she wants to be viewed as a strong person that is more than her gender.

The narrator’s father obviously loves his young daughter, he even introduces her as one of his “hired help,” ("Boys and Girls, 66-67") which makes her beam. Her father views her as a farm hand and not just a girl, she knows this about her father because he gives her hard work to do. She is able to be with her father and not have to worry about what others think of her, as she grows up she starts to feel differently about certain things; to help her sleep she used to tell herself stories where she was the hero who saved people from burning buildings, but later on she is the damsel in distress who is gets saved.

During the climax of the story, the main character disobeys her father, Laird, her younger brother, tattles on her. She then begins to cry and her father says, “She’s only a girl,” ("Boys and Girls, 66-67") then the main character says, “I didn’t protest that, even in my heart. Maybe it was true" ("Boys and Girls, 66-67"). The resolution of the story ends with her finally resolving her internal conflict that maybe she was changing and that it was a normal thing that every young girl has either gone through, or will go through sometime in her life.

Works Cited

"Alice Munro."LitFinder Contemporary Collection. Detroit: Gale, 2007. LitFinder. Web. 9 May 2016.

"Boys and Girls" Short Stories for Students. Ed. Kathleen Wilson. Vol. 5. Detroit: Gale, 1999. 66-67. Print.

Munro, Alice. "Boys and Girls." Womeninlit. 1968. Web. 4 May 2016.

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