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Eveline by James Joyce

By romysya Nov 04, 2008 1589 Words
“ Eveline” by James Joyce

“ There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision.” James Joyce, the author, wrote many short stories in a collection called Dubliners. The stories that James Joyce wrote, follow a certain examples that he uses to express his ideas. Joyce usually relates his stories to events in his life. There are some stories which are actually events that took place in his life. “ Eveline” is a short story in a book Dubliners. It is the short story about a young teenager girl named Eveline who is facing a problem where she has to chose between remaining at home like a dutiful daughter, or leave Dublin in Ireland with her lover, Frank, who is a sailor. Eveline haven’t had a life like many of children have now. Everyday she has to face many different kind of problems at her young age and she is tired of it. She wants to have a normal life that everyone has. Eveline comes to the point where she has to decide what will be best for her life. Throughout the story Eveline goes through many fears in her life. She is feared of her violent father, she is feared to go and live with Frank in a different country, she is feared to stay and live in Dublin and she is feared do break her mother’s promise. Eveline, who is nineteen years old, sits by her window and thinking about what she needs to do. Her mother died when she was a child. Her only brother, Harry, is in the church business. She has fallen in love with Frank who has promised to take her with him to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Eveline looks out onto the street while fondly recalling her childhood, when she played with other children in a field that now developed with new homes. Her thoughts turn to her sometimes abusive father with whom she lives and to the prospect of freeing herself from her hard life juggling jobs as a shop worker and a nanny to support herself and her father. Frank wants her to marry him and live with him in Buenos Aires and she has already agreed to leave with him in a secret. As Eveline recalls Frank’s courtship of her was pleasant until her father began to voice his disapproval and bicker with Frank. After that the two lovers met clandestinely. As Eveline reviews her decision to embark on a new life, she holds in her lap two letters - one to her father and one to her brother Harry. She begins to favor the sunnier memories of her old family life when her mother was alive and her brother was living at home and notes that she did promise her mother to dedicate herself to maintaining the home. She reasons that her life at home, cleaning and cooking, is hard but perhaps not the worst option; her father is not always mean, after all. The sound of a street organ then reminds of her mother’s death and her thoughts change course. She remembers her mother’s uneventful, sad life and passionately embraces her decision to escape the same fate by leaving with Frank. At the docks in Dublin, Eveline waits in a crowd to board the ship with Frank. She appears detached and worried, overwhelmed by the images around her and prays to God for direction. Her previous declaration of intent seems to have never happened. When the boat whistle blows and Frank pulls on her hand to lead her with him, Eveline resists. She clutches the barrier as Frank is swept into the throng moving toward the ship. He continually shouts “Come!” but Eveline remains fixed to the land, motionless and emotionless. One of Eveline’s fears is that she doesn’t want to break the promise that she gave her mother before she died. Eveline’s mother was a catholic while she was alive, and her brother, Harry, is in the church business. In the story Eveline's mother wants her to become the respectful daughter and keep the house and family together: "Strange that it should come that very night to remind her of the promise to her mother, her promise to keep the home together as long as she could. She remembered the last night of her mother's illness.” Eveline keeps her promise to her mother and decides not to run away with her lover, Frank. She keeps her promise because she loved her mother very much and she knows if she will break the promise she will never have her family back together. Eveline wants to keep the deathbed pledge made to her mother, but is alarmed at the prospect of sharing her mother’s fate. Her mother was ill-treated in life and Eveline vows that she would not be treated as her mother had been . She has had a life filled with hardship and chafes under her promise to keep the home together as long as she could. When she recalls the pitiful vision of her mother’s life, she is uncertain of what to do and prays to God to direct her and to show her what is her duty. It was a very hard decision for her not to go with her lover Frank to a better country. Eveline wishes her mother would still be alive so that she would not have to do deal with hard decisions and her life would be much better.

Another issue that Eveline struggles with is the relationship with her father. She loves her father, but is fearful of him. She tries to hold onto good memories of her father, thinking that sometimes he could be very nice, but has seen what her father has done to her sibling: when he would hunt him in the field with the blackthorn stick. She has begun to feel in danger of her father’s violence. Her father has begun to threaten her and say what he would do to her only for her dead mother’s sake. Eveline can’t do anything about that because it’s her father. Even thought her father is very violent to her, she still loves him and she can’t leave him alone in Dublin because he will be broken. Eveline thinks she is in love with Frank, but she is nervous about the future with him in Buenos Aires. Eveline likes him and thinks he is very kind, manly and open-hearted. She wants to believe that Frank will give her life she always dreamed of and perhaps love, too. Eveline is also uncertain at the thought of living in a distant unknown country. It is extremely hard for her to make the decision of whether or not to go with Frank because she only knows one way. Eveline understands that she has a hard life and she has the chance to go to a place where it will not be like that. However, it scares Eveline to change her setting. After thinking about leaving, she did not find her present setting as wholly undesirable as she previously did. At the end of the story Eveline makes her decision and decides to leave with Frank, but once she gets closer to the ship she changes her mind and runs back to her family. She realizes that leaving her father and sibling here alone - is breaking her mother promise and it is something that she can’t do to her family. In the story Eveline's family is described poor and they probably don't live a very comfortable life. The dust and Eveline's struggle for money mentioned in the story - all go to explain the misery in their life. She struggles so much that she is almost ready to give up and run away with Frank to live a better life where she would not be scared to live. Eveline wants a new life, but she is afraid to let go of her past. She dreams of the place where people would treat her with respect and, when looking into her future, hopes to explore a new life with Frank. When in a moment of fear she realizes that she must escape, it seems to steel her determination to make a new home for herself somewhere else. On the other hand, she is comfortable with the familiar objects from which she had never dreamed of being divided. She justifies that in her home anyway she had shelter and food; she had those whom she had known all her life. As she looks back on her past she discovers now that she was about to leave it, but she did not find it a wholly undesirable life. Fear is the issue that Eveline deals in her hard life. She is feared of her father, she is feared to leave Dublin, she is feared to live in a different country with a man she only knows for not long and she is feared to break her mother’s promise. In my opinion this short story is very motivating for me. James Joyce tries to show and teach us how was the life back then in Dublin and how hard it was for people to survive. Money was a big part of Eveline’s life issue. If her family would have had enough money - her mother wouldn’t have died and she wouldn’t try to escape Dublin or her family.

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