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Henry Bailey: The Nature Of Me Essay, Research Paper

Everyone wonders at some point in their life why they became the person they are. Most people like to believe they had a choice in determining who they would eventually become. However, the stereotype of gender in the society had predetermined what we are. There is an assumption that men s work are always done by men and women can never takeover men s work even though women are more qualified in many cases. In Alice Munro s Boys and Girls , the character of Henry Bailey represents the nature of arrogance in men s gender.

The main character is the girl and she is the narrator of the story. She remains nameless throughout the entirety of the tale. The lack of a name creates an image of a girl who is almost ethereal and also signifies other characters with name, such as the girl s brother Laird and the hired man Henry Bailey. The majority of the girl s personality is based on the fact that she is in a state of change through experiencing and imitating other characters in the story. She has only a few peers to look for examples on who to be, because the girl s life on a farm provides for an environment lacking in social interaction. The narrator watches her parents on a daily basis, and she analyzes everything they do. Her father, a hard-working farmer and a selfless family man, becomes her most dominating role model. Her mother is constantly attempting to pull her away from outdoor labor. She would rather want her to stay in the dark kitchen all day and help her cook and clean. Other than her parents, the third most important character is the hired man, Henry Bailey, who was introduced at the beginning of the story.

Henry is an old man with health problems, as we can see in these lines, Henry Bailey suffered from bronchial troubles. He would cough and cough until his narrow face turned scarlet, K K, and, standing well back, shot out a great clot of phlegm Vhsss- straight into the heart of the flames. The description of Henry Bailey is quite humiliating since we have no doubt that Henry Bailey s health condition is no longer suitable for working. The narrator s family admired Henry Bailey for his willingness to do his work, it is hard for the narrator to understand why he is still working. Perhaps, the reason for him to continue working is because he wants to show off to others that men are always tougher than women, even though his health is in great concern.

. In the following lines, For his laughter, which was full of high whistlings and gurglings and involved the whole faulty machinery of his chest. It was sometimes hard to tell what he was laughing at, and always possible that it might be us. In the narrator s point of view, Henry Bailey s acts are funny and entertaining. It seems that Henry is not quite respecting the narrator, the reason for this could be the fact that Henry is a man and he has never been told to have a manner as girls were told. Henry shows a sense of arrogance through his attitude and manner, which made a girl feel more of her gender role.

A natural part of every child’s development is wondering why things are the way they are. When Henry was looking around his collection of calendars on one Saturday, these calendars represent their hard works and it is part of their rewards. Henry is proud of what they had done. Later, Henry asked the little brother Laird to say goodbye to his old friend Mack and give him a final taste of oats. Henry said Poor old Mack, when a horse s teeth s gone, he s gone. That s about the way. The narrator asked Henry if he is going to shoot him. However, Henry did not answer her, instead Henry sings in a high, trembly, mocking sorrow voice in response to her question. Henry Bailey s attitude toward the narrator shows a strong sense of arrogance in the men s gender.

The most natural reaction to such arrogance is to rebel. The narrator s rebellion even extended to her parents because they always want her to act like a girl. She rebels by defying the expectations of her mother, and by attempting to be apathetic to emotional situations that would normally disturb girls in her age. A prime example of this is when she is banned from watching the slaughter of their horse, Mack. The girl forces her naive little brother to watch this brutal act despite the request of her father. Not only is she trying to prove to her father she has the ability to handle serious situations, but she is also trying to prove it to herself. By doing this, she only comes to find how truly different men and women are. When Mack collapsed, Henry laughed as if the horse had done a trick. Again, she doesn’t understand why Henry laughs, nor does she understand how the two men can participate in the slaughter without emotion because she does not have the mentality of men.

Later in her story, she is again confronted with the slaughtering of a family horse. This time it is the female horse, Flora. While Henry and the girl’s father are trying to get a hold on the horse, the horse gets away and makes a run for the gate. The narrator is sent by her father to shut the gate, and she makes it just in time to be able to close the gate. However, either because of an unconscious care for Flora, or just an outright defiance of her father, the girl resists shutting the gate and allows the horse to get away. Her father then pulls up in a pick-up truck and invites Laird to go with the men to capture the horse, leaving the girl behind. This scene shows how easily Laird is excepted into the man’s world, and mocks the efforts of the girl. At the end of the story, the narrator finds herself eating dinner with her family. Henry pasted his chewing-gum on the end of his fork, it is the way he always did. This shows that Henry can do everything that is considered to be bad manners in girl s world. While girls cannot slam doors and girls have to keep their knees together when they sit down. She is also overcome with confusion and guilt for the event that occurred earlier that day. However, the father claims, ‘She’s only a girl’, the narrator finds that her father is forgiving at last.

In Alice Munro s Boys and Girls , the character of Henry Bailey represents the nature of arrogance in the male gender. There is an assumption that men s work are always men s work and women can never takeover men s work even though women are more qualify to do the work in many cases. Through the help of Henry Bailey s character, the narrator has to accept and realize that she will always be a girl, and that her response to the earlier situation is expected due to her gender.

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