Frances and Michael have a complicated and precarious relationship; although they have been faithful to each other during their five years of marriage, Michael cannot help but look at other women. He feels attraction to all different types of women: on the street, in the office, “the Jewish girls, the...
Frances and Michael have a complicated and precarious relationship; although they have been faithful to each other during their five years of marriage, Michael cannot help but look at other women. He feels attraction to all different types of women: on the street, in the office, “the Jewish girls, the Italian girls, the Irish, Polack, Chinese, German, Negro, Spanish, Russian girls.” Frances feels insecure and predicts that he will cheat on her someday.
Despite Michael’s insistence that he is happily married, Frances tells him that his voracious “women-watching” bothers her and that she know he will stray. A few quotes illustrate Michael’s ambivalence toward Frances as well as hints of her ambivalence toward him.
Early in the story, as the couple begin their walk down Fifth Avenue in New York, Frances tells Michael, “You're getting fat" but says, "I love it… an extra five pounds of husband." At first she tells him—rather bluntly and critically—that he is putting on weight, having noticed this from sleeping curled around him the previous night. Then she quickly softens this remark by affectionately stating that she just has more to love.
A quote that both confirms and denies that Michael loves Frances is Michael's statement where he says,
I live with the woman I like. Whenever something good happens, don't I run to you? When something bad happens, don't I cry on your shoulder?
Notice that he states that she is a woman that he likes, not loves. Michael does admit, nonetheless, that she is his pillar of support: the person to whom he turns to share good and bad news. Frances is obviously someone with whom he feels comfortable when vulnerable and crying. Although he does not come right out and say that he loves (instead of likes) her, he apparently does love her if she plays that special a role in his life.
Another passage that both confirms and denies why Michael loves Frances occurs near the end of the story, when she directly asks him if he loves her. He replies,
"I love you, but I also want them. Okay."
"I'm pretty, too," Frances said. "As pretty as any of them."
"You're beautiful," Michael said, meaning it.
"I'm good for you," Frances said, pleading. "I've made a good wife, a good housekeeper, a good friend. I'd do any damn thing for you."
Michael answers her directly by insisting that he loves her; however, he also quickly admits that he “wants” other women. He wants freedom to look at and possibly have relationships with other women. We see that Michael loves Frances for her physical beauty—as well as for her abilities to make him a comfortable home and be a loyal friend—but does he truly love her?
Frances obviously loves Michael, as she would “do any damn thing” for him.