The Girls in Their Summer Dresses

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Irwin Shaw's short story "The Girls in Their Summer Dresses" is about a couple's marriage in danger. The man in the relationship, Michael, desires other women. His wife, Frances, knows this and is confused about her feelings in their committed relationship. Michael and Frances are jeopardizing their marriage. Both of them have different attitudes and expectations for a committed relationship therefore leading to a failing marriage.

Michael desires other women regardless of the fact that he is wedded. This is shown in the story when he is eying other women so often that his wife realizes it. When Michael and his wife are walking down Eighth Street, he sees a woman that is so pretty she could "break [his] neck."(p.1) Frances thinks she's "not pretty enough to take a chance of breaking [his] neck."(p.1) This proves that he is constantly looking at other women in front of his wife. Michael considers what it would be like if he were free. When he and his wife are discussing the subject, he cowardly admits that he "sometimes [feels he] would like to be free" (p.4) after his wife has to pry it out of him by begging him to "tell the truth."(p.4) This shows that the thought of being free has crossed his mind. Michael says that one day he may make a move on other women. After, Frances implies that her husband is "going to make a move" (p.4), he replies that he "[doesn't] know" (p.5) if he will, however, she thinks otherwise. He confesses that "[he does] know."(p.5) Upon realizing her husband's intentions, she changes her outlook about the relationship.

Frances is ambivalent about her relationship with Michael. At first she wants to be alone with him but by the end of their conversation, she doesn't. The Stevenson's invite them to spend the day in the country, however, Frances "wants [her husband] to talk only to [her] and listen only to [her]" (p.1) for that day because she claims that they never see each other. Despite this fact, by the end of the conversation...
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