Boys and Girls is a story about growing up on farm, but it is also a story about gender, and how the way ideas about gender can determine identity.The story is told from the point of view of the girl, who has no name, and whose experience on the farm forms the basis for the story. So the narrator is the main character.
Other characters include:
- Her father, who seems to have an unspoken appreciation for her work on the farm even though she is a girl, but who nevertheless devalues her because of her gender at the end of the story;
- Her mother, who resents her preference for working outside and tries to undermine her independence by getting her to help with domestic work;
- Her younger brother, Laird, who will supplant her position on the farm when he grows. Her relationship with Laird is quite complex: in a way, Laird is the only person she can be completely truthful with, but at the same time Laird is too little to really understand and clearly her enemy, in that he will take over her work (and effectively erase her identity).
- Henry Bailey, the farmhand. Henry is a “typical male” in that he (perhaps unwittingly) devalues the narrator, teasing her with the bag of dead foxes (meant to be a joke, but also not funny), or about Laird’s growing strength (also not funny), and generally just going along with the unspoken assumption that the men do all the “real work” on the farm.
- Mack and Flo, the horses, can be considered characters as well; Mack, the docile workhorse, is compared to a old slave; when he is shot he is going “to the place where the good darkies go,” another of Bailey’s unfunny jokes. Flo, on the other hand, the spirited mare, is more akin to the sort of person the narrator would like to be, in that she dares to attempt to escape.