Boys and Girls

Chosen Passage

“A girl was not, as I had supposed, simply what I was; it was what I had to become. It was a definition, always touched with emphasis, with reproach and disappointment.”

The narrator who is a girl enjoys helping his father do work outside. However, her mother, grandmother, even a salesman assume that a girl should stay at domestic and help mother do housework. Her mother complains about the narrator’s conduct and attributes her to not behaving like a girl and daughter. The narrator’s mother believes that a female should not go outside and do works such as digging in the garden. Every woman has a definition of their role in a family.

The physical setting of the story is in a community that embraces ancient cultural practices of undermining a girl. The time setting is an ancient time characterized by the girl’s father’s dependency on hunting and farming practices for obtaining food for the family. The cultural practice of the community by the narrator is where the boy child is valued over the girl and the girl cannot make her own decisions. A female’s life path is pre-set and they do not have opportunities to become who they want to be. The narrator wants to do the works that seem important to her; however, her sex has rejected the thought for her. However, she portrays a brave character with her few actions of antagonism and willingness to conduct herself against the cultural practices of her community.

The narrator tries to get her brother Laird in trouble by putting him up to the barn. However, her parents only criticize her for not "watching him." This also reflects that men are always right regardless of their actions. The presence of external conflict between the girl and her mother is evident in the passage. The narrator constantly antagonizes against her mother by undertaking actions that are against the will of her parents and culture of the community. The narrator in the passage is symbolized as a female individual in a society where they are undermined. The main theme of the passage outlines that females have rights to choose who they would like to become.


  1. How does the mention of the job of the narrator’s father and killing foxes have an impact on the theme and the interaction of the characters?

  2. What is the understanding of culture due to character interaction?

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