The Girls in Their Summer Dresses and Boy in Summe
Upon comparing and contrasting the two short stories, “The Girls in Their Summer Dresses” and “Boy in Summer,” many similar aspects can be observed such as the summer-based them of the titles, or the fact that each text tells the story a particular couple. The most noticeable similarity of all, however, is the fact that both stories basically have the same plot. The short story “The Girls in Their Summer Dresses,” written by Irwin Shaw, is centered on the character Michael’s girl-watching problem.
He often looks at the attractive girls around him even while he is with his wife, Frances. This makes her feel insecure and starts her worrying that her husband might leave her for someone who is younger and more beautiful someday. On the other hand, “Boy in Summer,” written by Sean Meriwether, is a story about a gay couple, David and Christopher. Like the previous couple, David’s boy-watching habits cause his lover Christopher to feel insecure and downright desperate about the status of their relationship.
In both of the stories, the two characters, Michael and David, have very similar behaviors, the same type of wandering eye. In “Girls,” when Michael and Frances are walking toward Washington Square, Frances notices Michael’s habit of looking at all the other girls. While Frances talks to him about their plans for the day, choosing activities that she knows her husband will enjoy, Michael’s eyes stray to another girl. She intimates that because he is so interested in the girls he might break his neck looking at them, to which he just laughs.
A very similar thing happens in “Boy in Summer” while David and Christopher are wandering south on Eighth Avenue after brunch, holding hands and enjoying the day. While Christopher was planning their day, he notices that David’s attention was not on him. David was frequently staring at other attractive guys. Due to David and Michael’s behaviors, their other halves become very anxious. Frances actually reveals this anxiety to Michael, saying that she believes that he looks at every woman who passes by and that maybe he might prefer to spend the day walking along the avenue to keep doing so.
She wants his attention and approval. In David’s case, his wandering eye makes Christopher very moody. Christopher wants David’s full attention but, David is too busy watching other men. Christopher and Frances both complain that their respective partners do this everyplace they go and they are sick of it. David and Michael also seem to be attracted by the same types of people, young and fresh. This is emphasized by the aforementioned summer theme in the two stories’ titles: “The Girl In The Summer Dress” and “Boy In Summer. Read also battle of the sexes questions
After an argument, Michael and Frances go to a bar to cool down. They order brandy from the waiter. After a few drinks, Michael loses all restraint. He admits that he enjoys his girl-watching. He talks of the countless beautiful girls in New York, all the different types of girls that he wants. This has also happened to David. He went to a bar after an argument with Christopher and after few drinks he admits that he loves to watch young boys; the boys who spend all day in the gym and the handsome youths who are excited about everything.
Even the orders of events in the two stories are similar as tackle the theme of potential infidelity: one character looks at others while with his/her lover, the lover gets upset, and eventually the first person admits to his faults. Basically, one can look at “Girls in Their Summer Dresses” and “Boy In Summer” as just different versions of each other, with the only difference being that one is about a heterosexual couple and the other is about a homosexual couple. In a sense, looking at both stories shows the reader that while love does not choose genders, neither does infidelity.
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