In "The Girls in Their Summer Dresses," what do you think Michael should do going forward?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

At the end of Irwin Shaw's "The Girls in Their Summer Dresses," Francis gives Michael the following instructions:

"Stop talking about how pretty this woman is, or that one. Nice eyes, nice breasts, a pretty figure, good voice," she mimicked his voice. "Keep it to yourself. I'm not interested."

Michael agrees to these more than fair demands, though it is not entirely clear that this alone will repair the damage that his wandering eyes have done to their relationship. Though the story ends on a positive note—with Michael's gaze honing in on his wife rather than on another woman—it is left ambiguous as to whether or not Michael will still continue to look at other women.

If, as he claims, Michael truly does care about his wife and their life together, then he needs to put his childish desire to look at other women with a romantic eye behind him. Frances makes it clear that she will not be with someone who acts in a juvenile manner. When Michael tells Frances about his impulse to look at the "battalions of women" around him, Frances replies, "That's a kid's feeling." It is hard to argue with Frances' conclusion, as throughout the story, Michael acts in an immature and sexist manner.

Though Shaw's audience—especially the men—may have been a bit more sympathetic to Michael than today's readers, the story quite clearly suggests that it is Michael who is in the wrong and that he is the one who needs to work on himself in order for the relationship to survive.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 31, 2020
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial