Provide a quote that confirms why Michael tells her the truth.

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Irwin Shaw's brief story is both a relic of past gender dynamics and, at the same time, an expression of a universal inner conflict that probably exists in all relationships.

In today's world, one would hope that most couples might either not have the need to discuss this issue in this way or would accept it as "realistic," with the acknowledgement that women can also and perhaps should also have similarly roving eyes or that most men would be sensitive enough to apologize to their wives for their insensitivity in making their ogling so obvious and then would stop doing it. The following quote leads to Michael's full discourse of his behavior:

"Why do you hurt me?" Frances asked. "What're you doing?"

At this point Michael realizes she is upset enough that he can't dismiss the matter and that he must now tell her the truth. The subtext, however, which is probably more recognizable now than it was over half a century ago when the story was written, is that Michael is annoyed by his wife's repeated questioning and therefore wants to throw all of this back in her face, elaborating on all these different women he examines in public. The story is a snapshot of life at a time when literature was opening up and the previous constraints upon authors about sexual issues were being discarded. Shaw writes with the self-consciousness typical of his time, and his characters seem to have the need to spell out things that have since that time been discussed so often that they would no longer be the subject of a literary piece, or at least, a piece written in this way. Or, conversely, a husband's annoying behavior would today be judged rather than rationalized as it is in Shaw's story. Still, the story's insight into a couple's dynamic is timeless and moving in its way.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 3, 2020
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