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Essay Analyzing The Girls in Their Summer Dresses

Analyzing the title of “The Girls in Their Summer Dresses”
“A little bit of Summer is what the whole year is all about.” (Mayer, 2013) Irwin Shaw was
born as Irwin Gilbert Shamforoff in the South Bronx in New York City. His family were Jewish
immigrants from Russia; and at the age of 21 he began his career as screenwriter. His short story
“The Girls in Their Summer Dresses” was written in 1939. The title of this work is misleading,
yet effective because, even though, the reader was deceived, ultimately, she keeps reading it
anyway. In the following essay I will focus on the effectiveness of the title given by the author; I will
explore what my expectations were, why I would not change the title it and why the title works.
When I first read the title, I was expecting a story set in the countryside, with some high
schoolers enjoying the Summer break before going back to classes in the Autumn. Since for the
Americans, Summer is the most expected season of the year. So, these girls with flowery pattern
dresses would be having picnics next to a river or a lake and swimming during the hottest hours
of the day. As a woman living in the Caribbean, that has sunny days almost year-round, and that
has never experienced the cold Autumn, the freezing Winter and the chilling Summer, there for, I
do not know what is like to be expectant for the Summer to start.
I definitely would not change the title, although, I could think of some more on point
alternative titles, but they would give right away the plot, or something else that might make the
reader say, “Next! I don’t want to read about a couple that is having a dispute. There are many
stories about this already.” Shaw managed to write an engaging story about a common problem
of the era by disguising it on a trip to New York. Since we live in 2021, in order to understand
the couple’s dynamic, we must examine the social time back in 1939, which helps us as a history
lesson review as well.
The title works as it is because, this makes us thinks about Summer, dresses and some
girls having fun. No one would think at first that the story’s main themes are male lust, gender
differences and female insecurity. As soon as you start reading the story, you get hooked,
because Shaw uses a very descriptive language, you can picture everything in your mind, and
you start walking down the streets of New York alongside this couple, enjoying the gossip about
their relationship. Since is a third-person limited the point of view, we only get to know about
their feelings and thoughts when they start speaking about them, making us read until the end to
know the resolution.
To wrap it up, my expectations were thrown away through the window right after
beginning to read the story. I would still keep the title as it is. The title works just as the bait that
attracts the fish. Therefore, this title is efficient in making the readers want to read about a story
of some girls having fun in the Summer, because we all can relate to it, since, we were once
young, and we did enjoy our Summer time with our family and/or friends, and we all have a
Summer that will forever be stuck in our minds.
Mayer, J. (2013).
Shaw, I. (1939). The Girls in Their Summer Dresses. New York: The Newyorker.
Wikipedia. (n.d.). Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irwin_Shaw