The short story "The Girls in Their Summer Dresses" by Irwin Shaw, details a dispute between a married couple. Michael is fascinated by looks of other women and it drives Frances crazy. Shaws intention was not just to show a bickering couple, instead, he was trying to show that women and men have different expectations in a marriage. Even though this story was published in the late 1930s it was more acceptable to look at women in that way, however, this is still a problem for most couples today. Michael and Frances relationship is failing because they both have different ideas of how a relationship should be.
Michael doesn't think that looking at other women damages his relationship with Frances. To him, it's perfectly fine to look at other women because it's natural, "God gave me eyes and I look at women and men and subway excavations and moving pictures and the little flowers of the field. I casually inspect the universe." he tells Frances. In his opinion, looking at other women is just as natural as looking at anything else. What is natural to him is that this looking is involuntary; for example, a woman passes him on the street, and he can't help but look at her. Location is also a factor that even he admits. He moved to the city from Ohio and now has access to "battalions of women" who create a land where "everything is concentrated from all over the world into seven blocks-the best furs, the best clothes, and the handsomest women, out to spend money and feeling good about it." Fifth Avenue comes to represent visual pleasure for Michael. He is getting older, near middle age, so he is trying to preserve his youth by looking and fantasizing about a variety of girls. Towards the end of the story Michael tells Frances "Sometimes I feel I would like to be free." This shows that he really doesn't love Frances because he contemplates cheating on her, and he seems to be insensitive to his wife's feelings.