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Lucila Sibrian
March 7th, 2016
Eng 305
Dr. Jane Lee
Eveline: Close Reading
Eveline by James Joyce helps us understand the life of a nineteen-year-old girl who is
living in Ireland. Joyce then goes and explains the life that Eveline is living day by day because
of her mothers death. Eveline is stuck between making two decisions in which she has to decide
if she wants to start a new life with Frank or stay in Ireland with her family and keep a promise
she made to her dying mother. Because Eveline is torn between making a huge life decision we
see her as a round character when put in the middle of deciding to leave with Frank to Buenos
Aires and start a new life or stay with her abusive father and keep the promise she made to her
mother. Her father being the antagonist of the whole story we later learn that he had a past and
see his character from a different point of view. James Joyce gives us a theme of escape threw
the eyes of Eveline and takes us to a journey with her and sees the struggles she is facing as a
young nineteen-year-old girl.
In the beginning of the story James Joyce gives us an idea about how Evelines life was
before her mothers passing. Eveline is watching her life pass her by and thinks about all the
happy moments she had growing up. She is realizing that everyone she knew had passed away or
moved away and she is realizing if she leaves to Buenos Aires she will be doing the same thing
others have been doing. Eveline being a round character, we learn that she is feeling guilt about
her making a decision to leave her abusive father and breaking the promise she made to her
mother. She is remembering the multiple times she has dust off objects around her house and

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thinks about how her life will become if she decides to runaway with Frank. As we know Eveline
is a young girl and she has to play the role of a mother to her other siblings who helps us
understand why she is torn between leaving and staying with them. At the time of this story we
have some knowledge that in Ireland a women is not meant to do drastic changes to her life and
especially not to leave her family behind. She later explains how others will portray her if they
found out she had left with a man.
Evelines father is known as the evil man in the story. Joyce then gives us an example in
how Evelines father started to threaten her and tell her what he would do to her only for her
dead mothers sake. Eveline is on her own and no one is there to protect her, which makes it
easier for her to want to runaway with Frank to Buenos Aires. Joyce makes Evelines father to
the antagonist to helps us understand why Eveline so desperately wants to leave home and why It
make it so difficult for her to decided to leave or stay. Joyce then throws us a curve ball and gives
another characteristics of Evelines father when her mother was alive. Which makes me think
that Evelines father is also a round character like Eveline. We learn that he is an evil man who
abuses his children and who always gets drunk but we later get a flashback that Eveline has of
the man she use to know. He was kind and loving father to his children and would be a happy
man as we learn how he had a sense of humor when we got the example of the her father putting
on the bonnet of her mother on his head. Her father was a different man when her mother was
alive. Another side to her father she knows is with in him but has lost his way once her mother
passed away. Which helps us understand why Eveline is having such a hard time deciding if she
should leave her life and start a new life with Frank. Her fathers actions are not inexcusable but
helps the reader understand why her father is this way in the first place. He is a lost man. Which
Eveline is aware of. When her father learned about Frank he did not like him because he was a

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sailor. Her father then showed that he cares about his daughter even though he is drunk and
abusive father there is some kindness still left in him.
Joyce later takes us on a journey with Eveline when she is standing on the dock debating
if she should runway with Frank or stay with her abusive father. This setting helps us understand
the decision that Eveline has to make. As she stares at the ocean of possibilities she is torn
between what to do. Joyce then states that all the seas of the world tumbled about her heart
which symbolizes Evelines decisions, her life, Frank, her mothers promise she had to keep and
her abusive father. She stands there in fear if she will make the decision to escape her life or stay
around and continue to help out her father. We are seeing her character evolve and see her being
scared of change. She knows that making her choice is either going to affect her life. As she
stands there, she is realizing that she will be breaking the promise she had made to her mother
and how will her siblings live with her father. She had to make a decision quick. Frank is another
symbolic feature in which he is there to show her the different life style she will have and be
there to show her the life she think she craves. When Joyce states that Eveline is looking up at
Frank like a helpless animal we are aware that Eveline does not love him but loves the idea of
what life would be if she decides to escape with him.
At the end Eveline lets Frank sail away as well as the life she dream of having. But we do
know if she decided to go back to her abusive father and her siblings. We are left with Evelines
raw feelings. We know at the beginning that she wanted a better life, she wanted a family of her
own, to start at a new place were no one would know who she is. But she was also debating
about her life she already has and the promise she made to her dying mother. But at that very
moment Eveline changed. She let go of what she thought that would give her happiness because
of the fear she had about leaving. She is now showing no emotion about her next step we are left

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with no resolution. We are not aware if she went back to her father. All I know is that Eveline is
broken inside and does not know what is best her.
This short story has so much detail and it is so powerful. Eveline is faced with making a
decision at such a young age. She is forced to grow up and be the one who is responsible. Which
can be ironic that she was welling to runaway and disobey what is good for her. She was known
to be the caregiver and be faithful to her mother. A young women wanting to escape the life she
was force to have. I believe that Eveline at that very moment that she let Frank go she also let go
of her emotions. She is empty and regardless if she decides to go back to her abusive father she
will remain emotionless she let go of her dreams the moment Frank left. A part of Eveline left,
and her feeling of escaping faded away just like Frank and her dreams did.

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Work cited Page

Joyce, James. Eveline. Dublin: Irish Homestead, 1904. Print.