Eveline by James Joyce: the Excuse of Fear
Fear is a sentiment which it can act double sided for a lot of reasons. While it can guide a person towards very threatening situations, it also may obstruct another person’s expected escape. For the main character Eveline in James Joyce’s “Eveline”, terror and fear is Eveline’s overruling commander. Although Eveline realizes her exposed life and wishes to be more happy, she quivers at the critical moment because the possibility to getaway seems very dangerous and it builds up fear within her. Eveline is basically afraid of love for one, she is afraid of love because she is basically the victim of her inner conflicts with her way of life. She is afraid because of the conflicts with her family and her father she does not want to let them go from the connection with them, but she tried to be with frank to escape her father in a way. In the end, Eveline chose the downhearted yet foreseeable daily life over a optimistic but undetermined future. Through contemplative narration and the moderate course of action of the main character, James Joyce’s “Eveline” shows the power of fear over many individuals as well as the significance of a powerful foundation in the mist of making good decisions.
Furthermore, with “nobody to protect her” (Joyce 30), Eveline carries a back-breaking financial problem which “[tires]” her (Joyce 29). Although her family is her biggest focus and priority, Eveline has a bit of love for her present state ( Joyce 31). However in this sense, Eveline realizes that, in this condition, she could take up a sorrowful and selfless destiny: laboring away yet being poor of her wages, encountering a drunken father and quite possibly his trait of roughness, as well as being a big sister to her siblings ( having responsibilities for them). However I feel that the dust reflects her state of mind because it shows that she is always cleaning up after people or also it means death in a way. Eveline asks: “why should [I] be unhappy?” (Joyce 32). Neither the situations of her childhood nor her commitment (promise) to her mother that she would “ keep the home together as long as she could” ( Joyce 32)– could make her stay put. I feel that the significance of her being a seamstress is always trying to please others because of the relationship with them, but trying to please everyone else is not helping her with her own decisions that she wants to make.
Although Eveline turns to a achievable way out from her life in Ireland, her determination for a change is later squashed by terror/fear of the unrevealed future ahead. While Eveline considers the following “to leave [my] home… was that wise?” ( Joyce 30), she comes to a preferably uncertain ending where her reminiscence and discontentment of the present conflict in her mind. Eveline’s resolution for leaving is quite unexpected and frightening as she weeps in her mind: “ Escape! [I] must escape! ( Joyce 32). Therefore, she doesn’t seriously think about the details of her marriage because her determination to escape her present condition of her reasoning.
Moreover Eveline demonstrates to be a person invaded by instincts which concludes in disloyalty and a unenthusiastic dependence on religion. At first Eveline outreached the pier with a feeling of urgency to get away from her unappealing life. However, she turns to religion as her resolution maker at the very final minute. Eveline “ prayed to God to direct her” (Joyce 32) because she was not able to pick her destiny and consequently take up the accountability of her decisions. Eveline stays away from taking up such a large task and, instead of finding a solution on a logical decision, allows her reactions to take over. I believe that faith is an instinct because if something happens you rely on faith and God to try to help you in a way. In the end, she let go of Frank like an invalid credit card, not even acknowledging his commitment as an individual. ‘He took her to see The Bohemian Girl and she felt elated as she sat in an accustomed part of the theater.’ (Joyce 31) ‘He used to meet her outside of the Stores every evening and see her home.’ (Joyce 31). He consistently tried to make her feel loved and she did not know how actually recieve all of this so she dropped him.
Eveline’s decision for leaving the town brings brightness to the inconsiderate behavior of many people and antagonizing side of human nature. Like the other people in town, Eveline chooses to “ leave her home” (Joyce 29). In a sense, this is a formation of being a follower. As the nice sailor who recommended Eveline to move to another continent, Frank is portrayed by Eveline as “[her sailor who] would give her life [and] perhaps love” (Joyce 32). This is neither a self-assured nor a lovey-dovey statement from a woman who is about to vanish her home and sneak away with her lover. Therefore it is logical to conclude that Eveline wanted to “use” Frank as pass out of her miserable life. Because Eveline’s choice to leave was not developed upon a strong reasoning, the significant fear of the unknown future makes her more frightened and she stays for her unhappy but expected present. Eveline therefore settles on the fear which pressures her less. I feel that the narrator chooses Frank to be a sailor because sailor’s guide people and lead people in the right direction of where they need to be and that’s what Frank was trying to do with Eveline in a sense as well.
Many people may conclude that human nature needs steadiness, and fear produces unreasonable urges within an individual. Eveline is a prime example in this case. However, in the end it is her choice to decide on what side of the fence she wants to be on. In conclusion, Eveline’s story brings out that fear itself is a empty excuse for irregular and unsure behavior, and that overpowering it is perhaps one of the most major steps to better a person’s life and, in a higher scale, to advance his society.
Theme in Eveline: the Sacrifice of Choosing Loyalty
They say that family is the most important people in your life, though no one ever mentions that choosing family over your own needs comes with a price. In James Joyce’s short story “Eveline”, a nineteen-year-old woman named Eveline is not living the life she wants. Although she wants to leave with her lover she remembers the promise she has made to her late mother, causing her to have to choose between her own selfish wants, or her promise to keep her family together (2). Being loyal to her mother’s promise comes with a price that makes her sacrifice her happiness and freedom for her family’s needs. The declining health of her father, memory of her mother, and the struggle with her emotions keeps Eveline from leaving with Frank.
Eveline’s loyalty to her family is shown in the way that she takes care of her father even though he is violent towards her. She doesn’t feel protection from him the way she does with Frank (1). Not only does he take all of her wages, he is abusive. When Eveline was younger, “her father used often to hunt them in out of the field with his blackthorn stick” (1). He also “had begun to threaten her and say what he would do to her only for her dead mother’s sake” (1). Although she does not see eye to eye with her father, one hesitation she has with her decision to leave with Frank is that she is worried about her aging father. Her father’s dangerous ways have caused her to have problems such as heart palpitations, and have made her feel scared, but she cannot choose her own happiness over her father’s well-being (1-2). Eveline’s love for her father no matter the circumstance conveys the theme in a selfless way that the audience can relate to.
The theme can also be seen throughout the story while Eveline is struggling with her emotions. Everyone has either grown up, moved away, or passed away, in turn leaving her behind. From her childhood friends, to her brothers, and her mother, Eveline feels like she is on her own. Frank is her escape from reality. He provides Eveline with the companionship that those from her past have taken from her when they left her behind. This makes it harder for Eveline to choose to stay at home. However, her memory of playing in the field with the neighborhood children remind her of a time when she was happy (1). We all want what we can’t have, and sometimes just the thought of getting what you finally want can make you realize you don’t have it as bad as you think. As Eveline reflects on her life with her family, she realizes her life isn’t as undesirable as she thinks it is because she has food to eat and a place to live, and people who care about her (1). She fears what will happen if she leaves her family alone, and even wonders what others will think of her if she runs away to get married (1).
Eveline’s memory of her mother displays the biggest influence on her decision to be loyal to her family. As she remembers her mother, she recalls that her mother also lived a life of “commonplace sacrifices” (3). This gives Eveline an even bigger push to leave, because she does not want to follow in her mother’s footsteps. As Eveline is about to board the ship towards Buenos Ayres, she hears her mother’s voice saying, “Derevaun Seraun! Derevaun Seraun!” (3). This causes Eveline to rethink her decision to leave because, “at the end of pleasure, there is pain”. She fears that leaving with Frank isn’t going to solve her unhappiness. She must carry out her promise to her mother to, “… keep the home together as long as she could” (2).
As you can see, even though Frank offered Eveline the life she dreamed of having, it was not enough because she would have had to leave her family behind. Even though the demands of her family often make her feel trapped, she keeps her promise to her mother. though it would have been easier to leave with Frank and get the outcome in life that she wanted. Through the thought of leaving, Eveline learns more about who she is and what her duty to her family is. Eveline possesses the qualities of sacrifice and loyalty because she was able to turn down everything she ever wanted for a life she was not happy with in order to stay true to her mother’s wishes.
Being Truly Happy and Selfishness: the Eveline in Us All
Happiness – the feeling that comes over you when you know life is good and you can’t help but smile. It is a sense of well-being, joy, or contentment. When people are successful, or safe, or lucky, they feel happiness. – Vocabulary.com
Selfish- a person, action, or motive lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one own personal profit or pleasure. – Dictionary.com
Everyone in their life has experienced an “Eveline” moment. Eveline had the almost impossible decision to choose between family or family, and in the end, she decided to stay. Eveline was a story that started with her recalling how good her life was. The story gradually describes how her life gets somewhat worst, wherein she loses a brother and her mother, her father begins to show abusive tendencies and her happy days are no longer. Then, Eveline finds love. She meets a sailor who wishes to take her away to Buenos Ayres, to make her his wife and give her nothing but the best he can. Her father does not want this, and she is also his sole provider despite how he treats her. As we come to climax Eveline is at the dock, torn between the life the wants and her loyalty to her father and the family she has left, torn between her happiness and loyalty. How does one make that decision? Should she have been more selfish with her happiness, her life? In this paper, I will analyze the correlation between not only her but everyone’s happiness, selfishness and how we should view this conundrum.
Happiness can take many different meanings and definitions for each and every one of us. In Eveline’s case it took the form of all she didn’t have growing up and what most women at that time wanted. She wanted to be a ‘Mrs’, she wanted a life of her own. We all want to be able not to worry about finances, to want what we believe makes life better, to experience that feeling of joy and contentment. Was it so wrong for the leading lady to want that also? In actuality is it wrong for anyone to want to be happy? According to the second paragraph of the first article in the Declaration of Independence ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’ was given to all humans by their creator, and I would even go as far as saying we were created to be happy. While it may not be a right for all humans to be happy or achieve happiness, no one should be chastised for wanting that feeling. In the story, we see the drastic shift of Eveline’s father go from loving towards her to a relationship of abuse and it appeared to be linked to the death of her mother, his wife. One can argue that he lost his happiness and so his personality and health changed. Happiness has been linked with health for some time now, we even have the saying that “laughter is the best medicine”. Positive emotions have even been shown to be connected to a longer life, so that leads one to think that if we deny others the chance to be happy are we actually causing harm to their life?
Often in life, like in Eveline’s situation, our happiness is linked to those we are connected to and it may not make them happy. Eveline was weighed down by a father who did nothing but treated her badly, her only living brother had gone on to do what he wanted, leaving her to address it all on her own. She thought about family who was living the life that made them happy yet she still chose an unhappy one for herself. Is it in our nature to put self above all else or those we care about above all else? Many decisions in life have not been made because of how others would be affected, how they would feel and the one who loses, in the end, is the person whose decision it was initially. In all honesty, it itself is a paradox, “I need to be selfish to be happy? But what about my loved ones?”. However, if your loved ones really loved you would they not support you wholeheartedly, once the decision was not self-destructive and contributed to your life in a positive manner. I believe this with my entire heart, that we as people sometimes need to choose what’s best for us and not what others think is best.
As someone who had to make a choice between loved ones and what I felt was best for my happiness I can identify with the fear Eveline faced and the dilemma of the situation. There were members of my family who were aginst my coming to the states and studying, it was really a difficult decision but ultimately I felt that it was what I needed for me and it made me happy. Mentally, it is taxing to feel like you are disappointed or negatively affecting your loved ones, however, you are the one who has to live with your decision or lack thereof. Being entirely selfish is never the answer to anything in this life because as stated by John Donne “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;” meaning we can do nothing by ourselves. The idea is to take care of oneself, to choose whats best for you, your health and future.
I’m aware that not every story may turn out like mine wherein the end my family decided to support me and that many of us are Eveline. The Eveline in us stops us from choosing happiness, our fathers may make us feel like we do not desrve any better, to tell us that our decision is all a lie. At the end of her story, she let fear and family prevent her step to happiness, however, I hope those that are their docks of there life-changing decision are a little more selfish and choose to sail to Buenos Ayres towards their happiness.
- James Joyce, Eveline. https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/j/joyce/james/j8d/chapter4.html
- No Man Is an Island – John Donne, https://web.cs.dal.ca/~johnston/poetry/island.html.
- Selfish. Dictionary.com, Dictionary.com, https://www.dictionary.com/browse/selfish?s=t.
- Happiness – Dictionary Definition. Vocabulary.com, https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/happiness.
- Declaration of Independence: A Transcription. National Archives and Records Administration, National Archives and Records Administration, https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript.
Eveline and Her Decisions in James Joyce’s Short Story
Coming from a strong Irish family, I understand “Eveline” by James Joyce to my core. When I was young I was groomed to be a family person. “Always do what’s right for the family, first!” my grandmother would constantly say. That phrase still rings in my head over and over. Eveline, however is faced with such a huge decision for a teenager, I believe she honestly made the right decision.
Although she came from a strict family, like me she was taught to always put them first. After her mother died, she was thrown into the position of matron of house. She did all the cooking and all the cleaning on top of her job. Just to stay afloat, all of her remaining close family members had to pool their weekly wages. Life was hard for the Irish at the beginning of the 19th Century.
“Besides, the invariable squabble for money on Saturday nights had begun to weary her unspeakably.”
Along with the hardship of her times, Eveline is faced with the daily dealings of her father, a brutal alcoholic. There are inklings of abuse that wafts through the pages of this short story.
“Her father used often to hunt them in out of the field with his blackthorn stick…”
From what I’ve read, this is just the beginning and was perhaps the nicest form of ill will his children felt at the end of his wrath. After their mother died, we feel the hatred grow stronger as he probably resents them for living and his love dying. Among all of this though, there is still love. Love for her brother and love for her father.
“Sometimes he could be very nice. Not long before, when she had been laid up for a day, he had read her out a ghost story and made toast for her at the fire.”
But while she loved her family, her family – especially her father, did not agree with her love for Frank, a sailor who she’d taken a shine to.
“I know these sailor chaps, he said.”
After some coaxing from Frank, Eveline decided to run away with him to Buenos Aires. As she readies herself for the journey though, I feel like her guilt gets the better of her. After making herself leave her childhood home, she rushed with Frank to the docks and realized that her mother’s words rang true.
“Derevaun Seraun! Derevaun Seraun!” – The end of pleasure is pain!
While her few weeks with Frank have been complete pleasure, her time has come to go home and continue taking care of her father and brother. She comes to grip with the fact that they can’t care for themselves without her. They would miss her and they would fall apart without her. She is the glue that holds them together. With that mindset, she is so shocked that she doesn’t even tell her lover good-bye. The helpless animal stare she gives him is due to the pure shock and realization that she will live in that same sad little town the rest of her life.
While gloomy, I would’ve definitely chose this path. It’s just how I was raised. What would have happened if she would’ve gotten to Buenos Aires and Frank would have left her? She would’ve been surrounded by people she didn’t know in a strange country and quite possibly would have never seen her family again. In the 19th century people, especially women, didn’t usually cross oceans more than once. If she would have chosen Frank, she would have lost her entire family.
While living with her family was hard, Eveline chose the right path. My Irish roots tie me to this story in so many ways, I feel like she is living my life, just 100 years in the past. My father is also a terrible alcoholic, although I still have my mother. Eveline wasn’t so lucky and because of the loss of her mother, she is left to pick up and dust off the pieces of her remaining family members.
An Ideal Unreliable Narrator in Joyce’s the Turn of the Screw, Eveline, and the Sisters
The unreliable narrator in modernist writings
“The phrase “unreliable narrator” was first used by the literary critic Wayne Booth in the early 1960s. An unreliable narrator is a character who tells the reader a story that cannot be taken at face value. This may be because the point of view character is insane, lying, deluded or for any number of other reasons.”
I have chosen three short stories which represent ideal examples of what an unreliable narrator signifies and how the modernist writers create narratorial unreliability, and construe them based on my amateurish approach. However, my interest was not solely sparked by these particular stories, as it was by the immense change occurred in the literary scope with the apparition of modernism. Wars, economical crisis, gender issues, the spreading of institutional education structures shaped the twentieth century and offered a different stage for the art to perform: the outskirts of big cities, middle – class communities, worker’s “playground”, etc., and with this “democratization” of arts borne in mind I have tried to interpret the following stories.
Henry James is a twentieth century writer who belongs to the panoply of modernist writers who reified the expression “the tradition of the new”. “The Turn of the Screw” is a rather ambiguous ghost story which does not fail to convey a scary plot as it narrates the strange events of a governess’s attempts to protect the two children she takes care of from the ghosts that she and apparently the offsprings see. What makes the story chilling is the halo of “unknown” that surrounds the happenings, and we all admit the more mysterious something has become, the more frightening.
The reader does not know how to react at the governess’s epiphanies and he becomes circumspect when it comes to classify the ghosts as merely an insane woman’s imagination, a supernatural fact, or an ironical piece of narration which the author uses to depict and criticize the vices of a past époque. This equivocal conclusions lead to the existence of an unreliable narrator who conveys an unauthentic story.
“At the beginning of the twentieth century authors such as Henry James, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Dorothy Richardson, Katherine Mansfield, Franz Kafka, Arthur Schnitzler, Ford Madox Ford (and many others) perfected a style that was called “pshychological realism” or “literary impressionism”. Just like the French impressionist painters of the 1870s and 1880s, the modernist writers were not interested in realistic representations of external phenomena but in presenting the world as it appeared to characters subject to beliefs, moods, and emotions.” In my view, the change quoted above represents a great metamorphosis of the literary paradigm because, by the solipsism of characters one comes across with an authentic and genuine performance of the fictional act. In the real world one does not interfere much with the refined ideatic structures of the elites, with the elevated vocabulary and sophisticated philosophy that one might have seen previously in literature, but with the plain honest feelings and thoughts of ordinary people.
“Normally, the narrator is the functional agent who verbalizes the story’s nonverbal matter, edits the verbal matter, manages the exposition, decides what is to be told in what sequence, and establishes communication with the addressee.” However, in the modernist writings, the narrator does not narrate, per se, the story in an objective manner, but rather alters it through the emotions and mental instability of the characters.
In “The Turn of the Screw” the “three dimensional” plot makes the narrator quite unreliable. The readers find out about the gruesome events which had happen from an anonymous narrator, friend of Douglas, who has read them the story of the governess as it was written by her and handed over to Douglas. The readers may ask themselves how reliable and worthy of trust a story is when it is told by so many different characters.
In the first “layer” of the narration, the set of events influences the characters in order to impress their friends by telling the most impressive stories. Hence, Douglas can be suspected of altering the governess’s story in order to be admired by his friends for his oratorical skills.
In the second one, we may ascribe Douglas with the “benefit of doubt” although the reliability of the narrator does not increase much, for, at the third dimension of the plot, that of the governess,’ the reader confronts himself with a bizarre narrator. The governess is a young woman who started working in the house of a “gentleman, a bachelor in the prime of life”, “handsome and bold and pleasant” whom she grows fond of.
Feelings and emotions, as it is said, change our perception of reality and obnubilate one’s perspective. Hence, the governess is not very trustworthy, as she evokes the story with a troubled heart. Moreover, it has been suggested, in some reviews of the story , that Henry James intended to ridicule the tendency existing at those times to overprotect the children, hence harming their mental and emotional development. The governess is doting on the children, portraying them as some adorable cherubims, talking about Miles’s “indescribable little air of knowing nothing in the world but love”, this aspects emphasizing not only the governess’s ingenuity, but also her unreliability as a narrator.
Another important aspect which we should focus on is the degree of education of the governess. From a social and historical point of view one might consider governesses less literate and prone to believe in superstitions (as the existence of ghosts).
Moving further on the timeline, James Joyce’s “Eveline” is an introspection of a young woman’s nostalgic memories and her confrontation with the vicissitudes of life.
In my opinion, Eveline may be classified as an unreliable narrator because of her emotional instability, for she had a difficult childhood and as a teenager she had great responsibilities to bear on her shoulders. From a psychological perspective one might assume that Eveline victimizes herself easily and she exaggerates the negative aspects of her life: “Her father was not so bad then; and besides, her mother was alive. That was a long time ago; she and her brothers and sisters were all grown up her mother was dead.” […] “Everything changes. Now she was going to go away like the others, to leave her home.”
“Eveline” is not a first person narration, rather an introspection of Eveline by a narrator who knows her very well. Eveline might appear to some readers as an immature woman who is not yet ready to “fly the nest”. From the following self-introspection of the character: “She had consented to go away, to leave her home. Was that wise? She tried to weight each side of the question. In her home anyway she had shelter and food; she had those whom she had known all her life about her.” it also emerges the fear of being ostracized by the community, by leaving with a man that she barely knew.
In my view, James Joyce wanted to emphasize the new shift in gender relations and the problematic feminist ideology. “The protagonist of this movement was known as the “New Woman”: independent, educated, (relatively) sexually liberated, oriented more toward productive life in the public sphere than toward reproductive life in the home” , these being features that Eveline does not possess. The author chose to depict Eveline as a “worn-out skin” of the feminine society which is left behind, this could have been delivered by the girl’s choice of not leaving in a new world with the independent adventurous Frank. From this perspective, the narrator grows unreliable at the point when the reader realizes that her views are not updated at the new shifts of the twentieth century ethos. However, it is difficult to figure out what is the stance that Joyce adopts toward feminism and the “woman’s new power”. As it was suggested by some critics, feminism gave life to a “masculinist misogyny” of the male writers, depicted in their works.
Nevertheless, we tend to disagree with these affirmations when it comes to “Eveline”, due to the fact that the character is not pictured in a pejorative light, rather the author situates himself in the hypostasis of a voyeur of the girl’s thoughts and decisions.
All these being said, Eveline, the character, cannot be included in the category of unreliable narrators as easily as other characters, but if one pierces the epidermis of the story might conclude that Eveline is not merely a fearful and nostalgic girl but represents the obsolete paradigm of what a woman ought to be.
Another short-story that caused bewilderment and triggered the speculative gland of the literary critics was “The sisters”, work published in “Dubliners”. It is well known Joyce’s allergy toward clergy and religion as an institution, hence it becomes difficult to understand what role Father Flynn embodies in “The Sisters”. Was he a solely instrument on Joyce’s agenda to deconstruct once again the clergy?
In my opinion, “The sisters” displays a subversive theme – an attack on the bureaucratic structure of the religion as an institution and the difficulty with which Father Flynn copes with that. The readers discover Father Flynn’s real face at the same time with his little friend: “He was too scrupulous always”, she said. “The duties of the priesthood was too much for him. And then his life was, you might say, crossed.” ; And the final discovery of the boy: “That affected his mind.” […] “Wide-awake and laughing-like to himself…So then, of course, when they saw that, that made them think that there was something gone wrong with him…”
The story reflects a paralyzed world with rigid frames, just like the stiff joints of the priest. The loaded atmosphere is revealed by morbid allusions and a funeral mise-en-scéne.
The boy is an unreliable narrator because of the solipsism and compactness of children’s life. They see everything in a different perspective and his unreliable view is conveyed by some summed factors such as his age, the feelings that he felt for the priest and the significance of death for someone so young.
Nevertheless, modernism represented an immense turning point in culture. Literature, among other arts, included in its manifestation the masses as protagonist, trait emphasized by the use of unreliable narrators as they represented different typologies of the hoi polloi. Writers attempted to penetrate the hard shell of the social classes and to emphasize or minimize the differences, succeeding to facilitate the so-called “revolt of the masses” , which occurred henceforth.
Eveline by James Joyce: Literary Analysis
Literary Analysis of Eveline
Eveline is a short story by James Joyce that narrates the worldview of a young woman torn between embracing the life of adventure and fulfilling a promise made to the young woman’s dying mother about taking care of the younger siblings upon her death. The story is centered on the theme of paralysis. Nostalgia is another theme that the story heavily relies upon. The author uses imagery to describe the landscape of the story’s setting but however doesn’t apply the same descriptiveness when it comes to people, even the protagonist. The plot of the story is relatively short as it consists of two scenes where the protagonist is at first engrossed in thought and another where she is frozen in inaction.
Eveline can be considered a whimsical woman. The claim can be exemplified by the fact that while at the beginning of the story the woman is willing to elope with a sailor, last minute decisions see the protagonist frozen and unable to carry out the deed (Joyce 77). The protagonist can also be rightfully considered hard-working as even at nineteen, Eveline fills the familial void that the deceased mother leaves. Eveline takes care of younger siblings while at the same time bearing the brunt of the brutal drunkard father. The protagonist is also dreamy by the virtue of using the imagery that the sailor suitor narrated about the wonders of the sailing life and the romance of Buenos Aires to escape the harsh conditions that dictates daily life.
The theme of paralysis in the short story is powerfully painted through the protagonist’s inability to make peace with the past and changing current unfavorable conditions. The inability to accept change is portrayed by Eveline’s nostalgic moment which reveals that the new houses that faced home where built upon grounds once occupied by a playing field that the protagonist played in as a child. Moreover, it’s best exemplified by the protagonist’s literal paralysis when the time to elope with the sailor came. Eveline was unable to accept Frank’s hand so as to step into the boat. By doing so, the author paints a picture of a young woman who in paralysis and denial is frozen in an undesirable life.
The short story is also laden with symbolism meant to strengthen the prevalence of certain themes. For example, dust is used to symbolize how Eveline has stagnated in the house. Although the protagonist dusted the house on a weekly basis, the author claims that there is always dust in the Eveline’s home. The author also states that as Eveline held the two letters addressed to brother and father, the evening made their whites indistinct. While the author may have been referring to the approaching darkness, there is a possibility that the finality of Eveline’s premeditated decision to not go to Buenos Aries was also implied.
Escape is another theme portrayed in the short story. The protagonist yearns for escape from her undesirable life. The first for that escape takes in the mind of the protagonist is through the imagery that Eveline conjured up as a result of stories that the sailor had narrated to her. However, as the protagonist became more involved with the young sailor, it is evident that a more physical form of escape in needed to whisk her away from the claustrophobic dusty room that Eveline had lived since childhood. However, the escape does not happen as the protagonist is bound to the house from duty to family.