Alice Munro: Short Stories

A Childhood Dilemma: The Effects of Parental Sacrifice or Its Absence on the Narrators of “Boys and Girls” and “The Boat” 12th Grade

The road from childhood to adulthood takes many turns, the choices one makes early on shape one's adult life. Due to traditional expectations, at some point during childhood, the realization of these choices can cause a significant dilemma; to follow one's dreams or to fulfill their family obligations. The female narrator in “Boys and Girls” written by Alice Munro and the male narrator in “The Boat” written by Alistair MacLeod both face this dilemma. Both narrators want to pursue their dreams yet, they accept the gender roles forced upon them and they struggle internally. However, the sacrifice of a family member, or the lack thereof, provides different outcomes for each narrator.

Both narrators want to pursue their dream, but they end up accepting their family obligations which are gender roles and family tradition. The narrator from “Boys and Girls” despises the female gender roles her family imposes on her, yet she ends up accepting them. Since the narrator is the only girl in the family, her mother imposes some stereotypical, traditional, “endless, dreary, and peculiarly depressing” indoor obligations on her, although “as soon as [she is] done [she runs] out of the house” to help her father with his “ritualistically...

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