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  1. #1
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    Can anyone do a quick check over this please?

    Hi, I recently wrote a character and theme response to a famous short stoy called "Boys and Girls" by Alice Munro. I am wondering if anyone here have the time to check over it quick and see if I made any big sentence mistakes or anything. Thanks alot. My writing is posted below. My english level is currently Grade 11. Thanks.


    3. Who is the protagonist? Give three qualities about this person and provide support for each point.
    The protagonist of the story is an unnamed and young female character who is also the narrator of the story. She has very “boyish” behaviors and ways of thinking. She is also considered to be the “son of the family”, helping her father with all kinds of jobs. But as time passed on, the reality of the adulthood becomes closer to her and her behaviors changed to what the society defines as a “girl’s”.

    The protagonist, although a girl by birth, has behaviors and ways of thinking that the society considered to be “boyish”. She expresses admiration for certain characteristics that we would usually associate more with boys. For example, in her bed late at night she often comes up with stories that “presented opportunity for courage, boldness, and self-sacrifice (Munro 47). In those stories, instead of being rescued by a “knight in shinning armor”, she is often the heroine who rescued “people from a bombed building… shot two rabid wolves who were menacing the schoolyard….and riding a fine horse spiritedly down the main street… acknowledging the town people’s gratitude for some yet-to be-worked out piece of heroism”(Munro 47). She even showed a sense of regret that she doesn’t have these characteristics in the real world.

    Her “boyish” behaviors expand beyond the psychological level. Even her everyday activities reflect this quality. She learned how to handle a gun even though she “could not hit anything yet, not even tin cans on the fence posts” (Munro 47).She expressed disgust for kitchen work, a role often handled by women in the conservative earlier periods, and called them “endless, dreary, and peculiarly depressing” (Munro 47). She loves the outdoor field work that her father does and considered them to be “ritualistically important” (Munro 50).

    She doesn’t even associates the word “girl” with herself. She considers it as a “definition, always touched with emphasis, with reproach and disappointment” (Munro 52). She even said: “a girl was not, as I had supposed, simply what I was” (Munro 52).If other people tried to apply the “girl” term on her, she would rebel. Her grandmother came to visit during one point and scolded her for not following the traditional definitions of a girl’s behavior. Her grandmother said things like “girls don’t slam the door like that and girls keep their knees together when they sit down” (Munro 52). The protagonist, however, stuck to her behaviors and did the exactly opposite of what her grandmother wishes.

    The protagonist worked on jobs that are usually carried out by sons in a normal family. She carries water, cuts long grass, lamb’s quarter and flowering money-musk with her father rather than doing kitchen work. She worked with a “feeling of pride” (Munro 49). Her parents recognize her role in the family as a “son” more than a “daughter”. Her father, for example, introduced her to a salesman by saying “I like to have you meet my new hired man” (Munro 49). Her mother, however, recognizes that fact less proudly and responded with “It’s not like I had a girl in the family at all” (Munro 50).

    As years passed and the protagonist gradually grew up, her behaviors and ways of thinking changed back to that of a traditional “girl”. These changes are evident in her stories. In those stories she no longer features herself as the heroine. Instead, she is often the subject of rescue in her stories by boys or male teachers. Her physical outlook, rather than excitement, became the primary focus in her stories.

    Her increasing interest to her physical appearance and attractiveness also shows this transition from a tomboy to a traditional girl. She is spotted one day standing in front a mirror combing her hair and wondering if “[she] would be pretty when [she] grows up” (Munro 55). Her attitudes towards her father and his “manly” work have also changed. There is a sense of “holding off” in her respect towards her father (Munro 56). This feeling climaxed near the end of the story when she, for the first time, carelessly disobeyed her father’s order. This can be seen as metaphor for her separation from the “boyish” world she used to love and respect.

    The protagonist’s final transition into a “girl”‘s world can be seen at near the end of the story. She passed the denial stage and had finally accepted the society’s label for a “girl”. Her father sparked this transition when he finally realized that she isn’t the material for a son and dismissed her as “only a girl” (Munro 59). The protagonist didn’t “protest that” and accept the fact that “maybe it was true” (Munro 59).



    6. Provide at least one theme statement for your story. Provide two examples from the text to explain this theme.
    The theme of the story is that the society has a fixed definition of what a girl and a boy is. We can see some examples of these definitions after a thorough examination of the story. The first hint of this occurred when the protagonist is forced to fight against her little brother. She used all her strength but still got pinned down in the arm. What this really meant is that a girl used all strength and still got pinned down by a boy much smaller than her. There is a hidden statement here that states boys are suppose to be stronger and tougher than girls in physical combat. A bystander even made fun of this and said “Oh, that there Laird’s gonna show you, one of these days!” (Munro 52). The bystander had expressed his opinion about Laird’s strength. He, the society, assumed that Laird is going to be stronger than his sister when they fight again simply because he is a boy.

    There is more of this stereotype about “boys” elsewhere in the story. In a conversion between the protagonist’s father and mother, she mentioned the following: “Wait till Laird gets a little bigger, then you’ll have a real help” (Munro 50). The mom thinks that her son is supposes to be the real helper of the father rather than her daughter. Her opinion, largerly influenced by the society of her time, helped to illustrate the fact that the society only expects boys as the ones to takeover the father’s work.

    The society’s view on what a girl should be is described a bit more straightforward in the short story. The protagonist’s grandmother is perhaps the one with the most traditional and straightforward view of girls. The society has taught her what it means to be a girl so she passed that on to her granddaughter. Her opinions includes; “Girls don’t slam doors like that”, “Girls keep their knees together when they sit down”, and “That’s none of girl’s business.” From what she said, we can easily see that the society has expects girls to behave gentle, act conservative and mind girl’s business.

    Near the end of the story, the father got mad over the protagonist‘s decision to let the horse out but thought better of it and said “She is only a girl” (Munro 59). The father has concluded, based on what the society had taught him, that a girl is different than a boy so you should expect differently from girls. He assumed that girls must have a soft spot for killing animals and that’s perhaps why her daughter let the horse out.

    The society doesn’t think girls are as important as boys. The writer expressed this idea in the naming of the characters in the story. The protagonist’s name wasn’t even mentioned while her less important little brother was given a name that is Scottish for Lord. Girls simply are not important enough for a name.

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Can anyone do a quick check over this please?

    unnamed and young- no need for 'and' with two adjectives
    character who- comma
    Her “boyish” behaviors expand beyond the psychological level. Even her everyday activities reflect this quality. - I would be tempted to join these with a semi-colon
    considered them- this should be singular to agree with 'work'
    and responded- was this in response to what the father said? If not, I'd change the verb
    “girl”‘s- "girl's"
    be seen at near the end- be seen near the end
    what a girl and a boy is- are??
    hint of this occurred when the protagonist is- why not 'occurs' to go with the second verb?
    pinned down in the arm- pinned down
    bit more straightforward- bit more straightforwardly
    behave gentle, act conservative and mind girl’s business- behave gently, act conservatively and mind their own business
    soft spot for killing animals - logic??

  3. #3
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    Re: Can anyone do a quick check over this please?

    Hey tdol, thanks alot for the corrections. Thank you for your time also. Thanks alot.

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Can anyone do a quick check over this please?

    That's OK, p3t3r1.

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