(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Françoise O’Meara is a young French woman recently married to an Irish man. The couple lives in Dublin, where the husband, Kieran, works. Françoise explores Dublin and its environs in the first six months of their marriage; around Easter, she discovers a bathing place on the coast about ten miles south of Dublin near the suburb of Blackrock. Although her husband tells her no one in Ireland goes swimming so early in the spring, Françoise is an independent woman, at ease with herself, and tells him it does not matter what other people do.

In mid-May, others begin to come to the bathing place. Françoise is particularly amused at the excessively modest way the Irish men change into their bathing suits on the beach. She is also somewhat troubled by the way the men look at her when she changes, not with curiosity or admiration, but with something she does not really understand, something almost like anger. When she tells her husband about her concern, he says it is just modesty. When she says the Irish men are as lecherous as troopers but just will not admit it, he says, “You don’t understand.”

In mid-June, a group of clerical students start coming to the beach where Françoise swims. After a while, the young men begin talking with her, obviously fascinated with her openness and with the fact that she is French. When she tells them about worker-priests she has known in France, one of whom fell in love with a prostitute and had to...

(The entire section is 519 words.)