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As we trace the profound internal conflict that Eveline faces as we read the story, it might be helpful to realise that the tale is constructed around two central epiphanies that help prompt Eveline into action (or inaction, in the case of the final epiphany). Let us realise that Eveline is a character who, at the beginning of the story is profoundly torn between leaving with her lover and staying to fulfil her responsibilities at home. The way she is introduced in the very first paragraph of this excellent story makes it clear that she is something of a passive actor in this situation:
She sat at the window watching the evening invade the avenue. Her head was leaned against the window curtains and in her nostrils was teh odour of dusty cretonne. She was tired.
Note how she is depicted as leaning her head against the window. She is a passive character who is unable to assert herself to leave and go. Note how the internal conflict she has rages within her as she realises that although her life is "hard," yet now she is on the point of leaving it is not "wholly undesirable." It is only the memory of her mother's death and her legacy which she passed onto Eveline in the words "Derevaun Seraun" which means "the end of pleasure is pain" which prompts her to stand up and actually move, helping her to flee her life and the future that awaits her.
However, when she gets to the harbout and to Frank, we can see that the overwhelming call of duty and of her religion is something that she is unable to escape, and when she tries to leave with Frank, she feels as if she will drown:
All the seas of the world tumbled about her heart. He was drawing her inot them: he would drown her. She gripped with both hands at the iron railing.
In this epiphany, it is the feeling that leaving with Frank will result in her metaphorical drowning as she flees both God and her responsibilities that keeps her frozen to the iron railing, just as we saw her leaning her head against the window at the beginning of the story. She ends the tale "passive, like a helpless animal," and we see that she will stay and live like a drudge because she does not have the power to extricate herself from the powerful paralysis that has come upon her.
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