Topics: Fiction, Short story, Dubliners Pages: 8 (1433 words) Published: November 11, 2013

Home Sweet Home

Indistinguishable, ordinary, suffocating, dull… These are just some of the

characteristics that can be used to describe Eveline’s life. James Joyce’s short story,

“Eveline”, which takes place in an ordinary Dublin town in the early1900’s, depicts a

young girl’s search for happiness, but her internal struggle, with what is familiar to her, is

preventing her from seeking her joy. The physical and emotional setting portrayed in James

Joyce’s “Eveline” plays a key role in the struggle between Eveline wanting to start a new life

and remaining paralyzed in her current life

The black and white picture is a scene on a street, all the houses are together, the

windows are all in a row. This is James Joyce’s Dublin. It is in this dull, dreary Dublin, that

the short story ,“Eveline” takes place. According to a letter that Joyce wrote to his publisher,

he says “I chose Dublin for the setting because that city seemed to me to be the centre of

paralysis”(Joyce 1). The reader can picture the dreary plain impoverished lifestyle of the

people in Dublin at that time. A city stuck in its paralyzed past. Eveline’s life is Dublin,

they are symbols of one another. Dublin has become a piece of Eveline, something that she

wouldn’t be the same without. Eveline isn’t able to leave, because that would mean she is

leaving her home… Leaving Dublin. Eveline would be in a new setting, in a new home and

with new people. According to Joseph Florio, “Eveline is powerless” (1), and isn’t even able

to make a decision on whether she should leave or not. She wouldn’t be able to handle the

transition since she is already so accustomed and so attached to her current setting. In

Dublin, her home, “she had those whom she known all her life” (4).

“She looked round the room, reviewing all of its familiar objects which she dusted once

a week for so many years, wondering where on earth apll the dust came from.” (4). The use

of dust as a symbol in the story is extremely important, in order to accurately portray the

setting. Eveline’s life is influenced by the plainness of her setting. The dust in her house,

which she can’t get rid of, reminds us of just how dreary and dusty her everyday life is. The

story opens with Eveline sitting “at the window watching the evening invade the

avenue” (4). She sits and watches people passing her in the street below too paralyzed to

move. Through Joyce’s words, the reader can visualize the representation of an ordinary

dusty room and a woman sitting staring while the “the odor of dusty cretonne” (4) fills her

nostrils. Eveline is so paralyzed, where she is, that she never realizes that the dust is

present until she breathes it in. The familiar objects in the room will stay dusty because

like Eveline they do not move. As Eveline looks around the room she comes to the

realization that the “yellowing photograph hung above the wall above the broken

harmonium” (4) has been there for years and never even bothered to know the name of the

person in the photograph. Everything is the same nothing seems to change for Eveline, she

is like the dusty objects in her room, settling on letting her life pass her by. Eveline can’t

shake off the dust, nor can she get rid of the dust to begin fresh. She is stagnant and

paralyzed by her surroundings. “Home”! (4) what a familiar place, yet she fears that she

will never see those “familiar objects” again if she leaves .

When Joyce writes about Eveline staring out of the window at a man walking towards

one of the new red houses, he once again utilizes the setting as a way to describe Eveline’s

life. The new house is in sharp contrast to the picture that is depicted in the story of the

neighborhood and even the house that Eveline grew up in. The use of red is also important

in the description of...
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