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How does the story "Eveline" by James Joyce illustrate Eveline's fear of love?I am...

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jjsmits1981 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 11, 2011 at 9:48 AM via web

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How does the story "Eveline" by James Joyce illustrate Eveline's fear of love?

I am arguing a point that Eveline didn't leave with Frank because she was afraid to be loved by a man she barely knew. Especially, since the only person who really loved her was her mother.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 11, 2011 at 4:53 PM (Answer #1)

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James Joyce's "Eveline" is a story written as an internal monologue of the main character who finds herself in a quandary:  she does not know whether to flee her home, trusting her life with a sailor ironically named Frank, or to stay at home and care for her father and brother.  Her conflicts involve the ambiguous nature of Frank's proposal to run off with him: While his name indicates honesty, his profession is rather dubious regarding honor. And, his proposal to Eveline to run away with him, a sailor, to Buenos Ayres suggests both the adventurous and the carnal.  That Eveline is rather ambivalent about her safety and security if she goes with him is evident in her internal conflicts. 

Then, too, her father has learned of her love and now Eveline must meet Frank secretly, so she is unsure of whether she wishes to gamble her life on the words of this sailor.  Added to what Eveline feels is her obligation to her little brother for whom she promised her mother before the colored print of the Bessed Margaret Mary Alacoque.  And, as she muses upon this promise, the image of her mother appears in Eveline's mind, the image of the plight of the Irish woman who makes "all those commonplace sacrificies." 

Perhaps it is Eveline's fear of love, perhaps it is Eveline's sense of obligation to family, but Eveline is unable to leap upon the boat as Frank urgently calls to her.  Representing the tragic Irish woman for whom psychological freedom is impossible because of the tremendous pull of the religious, social, and historical patterning of her culture that keeps her subjugated, Eveline cannot love and go with Frank because she is the victim of her internal conflicts with her way of life.

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