Do Francis and Michael seem to love each other in "The Girls in Their Summer Dresses"?

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In "The Girls in Their Summer Dresses" by Irwin Shaw, it is clear that Francis loves Michael, but it is decidedly less obvious that Michael reciprocates her love. The conflict of the story revolves around Michael's persistent tendency to blatantly look at and admire other women in front of his wife. Though Michael initially claims that his wandering gaze is benign, Francis eventually gets him to admit that he sometimes "would like to be free."

The reason it is clear that Francis loves Michael is that she is willing to tolerate his behavior at all. Francis works hard to get Michael to tell the truth about his feelings because she wants to make their relationship work. Also, it is Francis who pitches the idea of spending the day together on a romantic escapade rather than visiting some friends.

It does seem by the end of the story that Michael's love for his wife has been reignited, though it is unclear how long this will remain the case. Although Michael seems to have eyes only for Francis at the story's conclusion, he treats her similarly to the other girls he has ogled during the day and remarks solely on her physical beauty. Thus, if Michael does love Francis, it seems fair to say that it stems from a shallower place than her love for him.

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