The story, narrated by a young girl, details the time in her life when she leaves childhood and its freedoms behind and realizes that to be a “girl” is to be eventually, a woman.
This child begins to understand that being socially typed entails a serious of implications. The young girl senses that women are considered the social inferior of men.
Initially she tries to prevent this from occurring resisting her parents’ and grandparents’ attempts to train her in the likes of women. This resistance proves to be useless and the girl ends the story clearly socially positioned as a girl, something which she apprehends with some trepidation.
Laird is the narrator’s younger brother, a seemingly sweet little boy whose helplessness is, at first, contrasted to the narrator’s greater ability. He is almost effeminate at the beginning of the story, a role reversal of genders seems to be displayed.
As the story progresses, this image falls away and it becomes clear that Laird (which means “Lord”) will be the one to take the narrator’s place at their father’s side, a position the young narrator hoped would be hers.
By the end of the story, Laird has been taken into the company of men, and the narrator has been relegated to the ranks of being “only a girl.”