Analytical Essay "The Girls in Their Summer Dresses"

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“The girls in their summer dresses” by Irwin Shaw

In the short story “The girls in their summer dresses” by Irwin Shaw, a couple’s marriage is in danger. A scene is played out from the early 1900’s of a middle aged couple going for a walk after breakfast on a Sunday morning. Michael, the husband is seen looking at a girl and Frances, the wife becomes emotional instigating a fickle dispute over Michaels actions. In their marriage Michael and Frances have different attitudes and expectations for a committed relationship; Michael is a stereotypical insensitive male who enjoys looking at beautiful woman and Frances is a stereotypical sensitive woman who’s actions are confused by feelings.

Their marriage is in danger due to their different attitudes and expectations. Michael reasons it is fine to look at other woman and assuages Frances by stating "I look at everything. God gave me eyes and I look at women and men and subway excavations and moving pictures and the little flowers of the field. I casually inspect the universe." Frances eventually implies Michael want’s other woman "You look at them as though you want them," Michael replies "in a way that's true.“ affirming Frances implication and furthering the altercation. Frances is emotionally confused Michael is looking at other woman, but Michael has been doing so before the marriage even started. This is clearly a cause for confusion as Frances did not bring up the issue until now.

Michael is the stereotypical insensitive male who enjoys looking at beautiful women. Regardless of being married, Michael still desires other women and blatantly stares at them in front of Frances. "Look out," Frances said, as they crossed Eighth Street. "You'll break your neck." What starts out as an adverse acknowledgement turns out to be the epidermis of a much greater problem that is negatively affecting their marriage. Michael admits wanting to be free after Frances demands the truth, but does nothing to console Frances...
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