Why does Frances insist on knowing the truth from Michael?

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In the short story "The Girls in Their Summer Dresses" by Irwin Shaw, a married couple, Michael and Frances, emerge onto Fifth Avenue in New York on a warm sunny day in November. It is Sunday, and they have just had breakfast. They stroll along amidst other people out slowly walking, and at first it seems as if their situation is idyllic. However, very quickly Frances comments on the fact that Michael is watching a pretty girl that passes by.

At first, Frances wants to cover up the incident. She suggests canceling their social engagement and spending the day alone together, first going to a football game, then eating a steak dinner, and finally watching a movie. Michael agrees, and all seems solved. However, Michael continues to look at other women, and Frances brings it up in conversation again. They begin to argue and decide to go for a drink. While they are sipping brandies, Frances presses Michael and insists that he tell her why he looks at other women and whether he would ever act on the desires that he has towards them. There are several reasons why Frances wants to know the whole truth.

First of all, Michael looking at the women on that day is not a one-time, isolated occurrence. He has been doing it for a long time. Although Frances has been attempting to defuse the situation with humor, it obviously bothers her, and the discomfort is building up within. It finally gets to be too much, and she wants to confront him about it.

Secondly, Frances is concerned that Michael's interest in gawking at women could be an indication of something deeper. She thinks that he may be contemplating having an affair, or maybe even multiple affairs. She wants to know whether her suspicions are correct or if she is imagining this. Most people prefer to know the truth even if it hurts.

Finally, Frances values her marriage despite her husband's wandering eyes. If her husband is going to eventually have affairs with other women, she wants to be assured that her marriage is intact in spite of them. That is why, at the end, she tells her husband to stop talking about the other women. She is giving him implicit consent as long as she doesn't have to know the details.

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