Importance of Gender Roles in "Boys & Girls" and "Happy Endings Part B": Munro vs. Atwood

Essay by nabhatiesCollege, UndergraduateB, February 2007

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Gender roles have changed significantly throughout time as illustrated in the short stories "Boys & Girls" and "Happy Endings Part B". These changes can be attributed to the implementation of women's rights, economic changes, and the way society is now educated on equality. In the 1930s two prominent female writers, Margaret Atwood & Alice Munro, dealt with how society is often responsible for shaping a person's ideas and beliefs about women. In her short story "Boys & Girls", Munro shows a young girl's struggle with traditional values to try and become a powerful female figure in the society. Atwood's "Happy Endings Part B" deals with how society and stereotypes make a young woman feel insecure and unwanted. Both authors capture the struggle of the female characters in their respective stories.

"Boys & Girls" deals with a young girl, the narrator, who is not aware of the limitations of being a female during this time period.

The young girl is not named in the story, which makes her seem insignificant to the world and that she has no purpose in life. Her brother's name was Laird, which is also a synonym for lord , this further supports the argument of how the son was superior to the daughter during this time. Early in the story the narrator is shown as a very smart individual who has a broad imagination. She believed that she could achieve anything that she imagined in her dreams, but she was unaware of the female stereotypes she would have to eventually be accustomed to and have to follow. She considers herself to be a tom boy, she wants to work and spend time outside with her father but her family is trying to tell her to do things that "proper" young girls do. When her grandmother came...