Ranch Girl by Maile Meloy

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 653 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Mar 19, 2024

Words: 653|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Mar 19, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Gender Roles and Expectations
  3. Impact of Societal Expectations
  4. Search for Identity
  5. Conclusion


In Maile Meloy's short story "Ranch Girl," a young girl growing up in Wyoming is faced with the challenges and expectations of her rural community. Through the protagonist's journey, the story delves into the complexities of gender roles and identity, highlighting the pressures and constraints placed on individuals in conforming to societal norms. This essay will analyze "Ranch Girl" in terms of its exploration of gender roles, the impact of societal expectations on the characters, and the search for identity in a conservative environment.

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Gender Roles and Expectations

One of the central themes in "Ranch Girl" is the portrayal of traditional gender roles and the expectations placed on individuals based on their gender. The protagonist, a young girl working on her family's ranch, is constantly reminded of her role as a woman in a male-dominated society. She is expected to perform domestic tasks such as cooking and cleaning, while her brothers are encouraged to engage in physically demanding work. This stark contrast in expectations reveals the gender bias prevalent in rural communities, where women are often confined to traditional roles.

Moreover, the story highlights how gender roles can limit individuals' opportunities and aspirations. The protagonist dreams of being a writer and escaping the confines of her rural life, but her desire is met with skepticism and discouragement from those around her. The pressure to conform to societal expectations forces her to suppress her dreams and conform to the predetermined path set for her by her community.

Impact of Societal Expectations

Throughout "Ranch Girl," the characters' actions and choices are heavily influenced by societal expectations, particularly in relation to gender. The protagonist's mother, for example, embodies the traditional role of a ranch wife, conforming to the expectations placed upon her. She discourages her daughter's aspirations, fearing that they will disrupt the established order of their community. This illustrates the cycle of conformity perpetuated by societal expectations, as individuals pass on these constraints to the next generation.

The protagonist's interactions with her peers also demonstrate the impact of societal expectations. When she attends college, she finds herself caught between her desire for independence and the pressure to conform to her community's conservative values. She struggles to reconcile her own desires with the expectations placed upon her, highlighting the internal conflict faced by individuals in similar circumstances. This conflict often leads to the suppression of one's true identity in order to fit in and avoid social ostracization.

Search for Identity

The protagonist's journey in "Ranch Girl" is ultimately a search for identity, as she grapples with the expectations placed upon her and the desire to be true to herself. As she navigates the challenges of her conservative environment, she gradually begins to question the limited options available to her and the stifling nature of societal norms. This search for identity is portrayed through her yearning for education, her curiosity about the outside world, and her desire to break free from the confines of her community.

Ultimately, the protagonist's journey highlights the importance of self-discovery and the need to challenge societal expectations in order to forge one's own path. Through her experiences, she begins to realize that her identity is not limited to her gender or her role in society. She learns to embrace her individuality and pursue her dreams, even in the face of resistance from those around her.

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In "Ranch Girl," Maile Meloy skillfully explores the complexities of gender roles and identity in a conservative rural community. Through the protagonist's journey, the story sheds light on the expectations placed on individuals based on their gender, the impact of societal norms on personal aspirations, and the search for identity in a restrictive environment. By analyzing the characters' experiences and the challenges they face, we are reminded of the importance of questioning societal expectations and embracing our true identities, regardless of the constraints imposed by our communities. "Ranch Girl" serves as a poignant reminder that true fulfillment comes from living authentically, even in the face of adversity.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Oliver Johnson

Cite this Essay

Ranch Girl By Maile Meloy. (2024, March 19). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 24, 2024, from
“Ranch Girl By Maile Meloy.” GradesFixer, 19 Mar. 2024,
Ranch Girl By Maile Meloy. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 Jun. 2024].
Ranch Girl By Maile Meloy [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 19 [cited 2024 Jun 24]. Available from:
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