The Girls in Their Summer Dresses

by Irwin Shaw

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Last Updated on September 15, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 350

Michael Loomis

Michael Loomis is one half of the couple that the story focuses on. He is a man approaching middle age. He claims to be happily married to his wife of five years, though he is caught several times admiring attractive women on the street. When confronted, he sees little issue with his habit of ogling pretty women he encounters. In fact, he further upsets his wife by defending himself and diving deeper into the habit in the first place. He confesses that his favorite pastime is walking around the city in the afternoon admiring all of the women. Michael claims that as a young man from Ohio, he could never have imagined encountering so many beautiful women in one place. He tells Frances he has worn his “heart in his throat” for the ten years he’s been in New York. Frances thinks this is a “kid’s feeling,” being overwhelmed by the mere presence of the sex one is attracted to. By the end of the story, he admits that though he has been faithful, he cannot promise he will not stray from his wife physically at some point. 

Frances Loomis

Frances has been married to Michael for five years. She begins the story excited to spend the day with her husband, but this excitement quickly dissipates when she catches him admiring other attractive women as they walk down the street together. She mentions this to him, clearly upset and frustrated that this is a recurring issue. Michael is surprised that she has noticed this behavior. During their conversation, Frances becomes insecure and upset that she even brought it up: clearly, she has been stifling these emotions for the span of their marriage. She is accustomed to hiding these feelings but on the day the story takes place, she cannot ignore them any longer. It is obvious that Frances loves her husband. She tells him she hasn’t even looked at another man since they began their relationship. This conflict remains unresolved, and Frances makes a call to their friends so the couple might ignore the conflict.

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