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Eveline, by James Joyce, one of the short stories in the Dubliners collection, reveals the difficulty in separating duty to family from desire for a better life. Eveline has decided to leave Ireland with her "fellow" Frank and make a better life in Buenos Aires where people will respect her and not treat her as her own mother was treated in the harsh environment of Ireland.
There is a constant fear for Eveline that her father will turn violent, much like he was towards her brothers when they were younger. She has only been spared, it seems, due to the memory of her mother. Eveline is convinced that the palpitations she now feels stem from her father's threats. There are two children that have been "left to her charge" and Eveline ensures they are fed and schooled. She is already starting to doubt her decision to leave as, despite the fact that it is a "hard life....she did not find it a wholly undesirable life."
When Eveline speaks of Frank, there is a wishful tone to her words and the reader can sense the calm that comes over her, despite the unknown. Thoughts of Frank give her confidence and she is glad that she has found someone who will protect her. Frank makes her feel special and, despite being forbidden to see him by her father, she intends to leave with Frank.
Her doubts overtake her thoughts again as she even recalls occasions when her father has been "nice." Whilst Eveline reflects on everything that has happened and everything that may happen, the sound of a "street organ" reminds her of a promise she made to her late mother. Her mothers' words haunt her and serve as a warning suggesting that no matter what, a person can never really escape pain. Panic then sets in and Eveline tries to convince herself that leaving is the right thing to do. She is fighting her own thoughts at this point and her sense of duty is almost overwhelming her.
Ultimately, Eveline is powerless to act "like a helpless animal." The only way for Eveline to do what she now thinks is the right thing is to switch off completely such that "her eyes gave him no sign of love or farewell or recognition." She has finally got to accept that "escape" is not an option for her because "he would drown her" and she cannot leave.
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