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Jamnes Joyce's "Eveline" is very short, yet has extraordinary characterization. Paragraph three shows she views her home as “familiar objects” or an extension of herself from which she “had never dreamed of being divided.” Eveline doesn’t confirm her identity in terms of herself, or who she is as a human being, but in terms of her home, family, and gender. In paragraphs three and four, Eveline’s definition of home gains more complexity when she evaluates it as a place where she “had shelter and food; she had those whom she had known all her life about her.” Nowhere in these definitions of “home” does Eveline mention it as a place where there are people who love her and are loved in return.
The first paragraphs in Eveline show the protagonist as a tired, passive, subdued woman who feels paralyzed as the “evening invades the avenue” or the “odor of cretonne” reaches her nostrils. She seems to be so familiar with her physical surroundings that she can tell when the steps of a neighborhood pedestrian click on the “concrete pavement” or crunch on the “cinder path.” She is also very familiar and emotionally connected with her memories of the past and resents the changes her neighborhood has suffered since her childhood.Overall, the presence of religious elements in Joyce’s story helps one to understand the extent to which, consciously or not, values related to chastity, family, and moral commitment helped to construct Eveline’s sense of self and identity. (1914), highlights the condition of women and men in Ireland, presenting them as a product of a social environment that cripples their emotions and freezes their ability to choose for themselves.
Paragraph five contrasts her “new home,” a place “in a distant unknown country,” with her first definition of home as a site where the familiar objects are close to her and with which she develops a great degree of familiarity. In this context of physical intimacy she develops with her familiar surrounding, her thought of a new home in far off Buenos Ayres evokes everything Eveline had not been emotionally equipped to confront: a distant, unknown place.
Frank is a sailor, a romantic figure who symbolizes the far-off expectations of self-realization in an exotic land. He wants to free Eveline from the restrictions of her duty-bound environment by introducing her to theater, music, a new country, and a new life as his wife. Despite her attraction to him, he is unable to convince her to leave Ireland. The fact that Frank was a sailor, an erratic figure, traditionally evoked as a womanizer, as Eveline’s father suggests, might have contributed to her fear that Frank might even kill her when she utters: “He was drawing her into them [all the seas of the world]: he would drown her.”
A strict patriarchal milieu as that of Irish Catholicism at the turn of the century would not allow women to assume control of their lives, or search for fulfillment and realization exclusively on the basis of romance. Eveline’s duty as a single woman was first and foremost to fulfill her role as an obedient daughter. As a critique of Irish life, Joyce’s story presents men and women as a product of a social environment that cripples their emotions and freezes their ability to choose for themselves.
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