Eveline by James Joyce: A Picture of Paralysis

Pages: 8 (5149 words) Published: October 19, 2014
Through careful and ingenious choice of points of view, diction, imagery and other miscellaneous stylistic devices, James Joyce, in one of his most famous short stories “Eveline”, successfully portrayed a picture of paralysis, which is appropriately in keeping with the theme of the story: The people of Ireland refuse to make any effort toward positive change for themselves. “Eveline”, one of 14 short stories, may be used to serve as a case study of the whole book to gain a glimpse into the lives of the inhabitants of the city Dublin called as “Dubliners” by Joyce. It is a story of adolescence, and it is basically about her choice of the familiarity of a life in which she is mistreated by her abusive father and replacement of her dead mother in raising her younger siblings over the fear of change represented by starting a new life in a new country with the man who loves her. She is a 19-year-old immature emotionally undeveloped girl, and unable to decide between the gloomy present and unknown future. The central theme of the story is paralysis. Characters are trapped in lives they abhor by events and forces they could control as well as those beyond their control. In these stories, adolescents and young adults become aware that they are or will be trapped, creating in them moral or spiritual paralysis that prevents them from escaping or avoiding the trap. Point of View: Sympathetic and Objective

Joyce’s role, as a recorder of the city, develops the style in which Dubliners is written. Evidence of this style lies in Joyce’s tongue-in-cheek objectivity, subtle comment, careful crafting of tone and images, and demonstration of conflict in characters’ intentions and actions. Joyce uses the colored narrative to tell the story from the third person limited point of view, a narrative that is influenced by the character’s point view and his perspective. Such a way of telling a story enables readers to probe into the very heart of the protagonist to understand, to appreciate every turn of the protagonist’s mind and to arrive simultaneously with the protagonist at the final decision of act. Free indirect thought used in the story resembles very much the dialogues going on inside the protagonist and proved very useful in the description the internal conflicts. The repetition of the expression “used to” in the first part of the story creates perfectly a feeling of nostalgia, around which Joyce’s sympathy for his protagonist centers. Exclamatory marks are used together with some single words to form incomplete sentences. Incomplete as the sentences are, they serve completely and perfectly as outlets of feelings of nostalgia (Home!), of determination (Escape!), of emergent urge (Come!) and of terrible rebellion (No! No! No!). The use of free indirect thought is so overwhelming that it almost takes up authorial voice and sometimes it is difficult to tell who is making the sighs about the happy memories and sordid reality, who is having a hard time making a crucial decision in life and who is overcome by impulses of escape. The idea of passiveness is implied here to develop into the theme of paralysis. The innumerable repetition of the article “the” is used here to create a feel of familiarity, which fortifies not slightly Eveline’s attachment to the sordid reality and her paralysis which makes her forward movement impossible. Throughout the story, Joyce is very scrupulous about the use of words that are abstract, emotional, evaluative, psychological and florid. Instead, the words he uses in the story are simple, formal, descriptive, specific and standard. His careful selection of words enables him to accurately and objectively sketch his character and presents his characters with a remarkable conciseness and precision, leaving the readers alone with only the basic facts of the story. In the first few paragraphs, abject condition is conjured up by the terse description, with no value terms or florid adjectives. As the story moves...
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