(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The narrator, an eleven-year-old girl living on a fox-breeding farm with her parents and younger brother, details the work of the farm: the killing, skinning, and preparation of the silver foxes; their feeding and watering; and the killing of horses to get meat to feed the foxes. All this work is a normal and everyday part of life to the narrator, who takes great pride in helping her father with the outdoor chores. She blushes with pleasure when her father introduces her as his “hired man” but dreads the dreary and monotonous work inside the house. She is apprehensive about her mother’s plans for her when she grows older and must take on more traditional female roles. Though she loves her mother, she also sees her as an “enemy” who is plotting to take her away from more important pursuits. The girl also tries hard to avoid her grandmother, who constantly nags her to behave in more ladylike ways.

During the winter the family keeps two horses until they must be killed for meat for the foxes. Mack is an old and indifferent horse; Flora is a high-stepping and nervous mare. The girl has never seen a horse killed before, and curiosity compels her and her brother to watch their father shoot Mack. Though she tries to shrug off Mack’s death as inevitable, she worries about its effect on Laird. She also feels ashamed, wary, and restrained around her father for the first time.

Other things are changing. Laird is now big and strong enough to...

(The entire section is 492 words.)


(Short Stories for Students)

‘‘Boys and Girls’’ opens with the unnamed narrator describing her father and his work. He is a fox farmer who raises silver foxes...

(The entire section is 806 words.)