What meaning does "dust" have in the story and why is it mentioned so often?
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Dust is symbolic of the lack of life in the house and how nothing ever really changes much. Like dust, lack of movement makes more of this fine debris accumulate; in life, stagnation also begets more stagnation unless some kind of willful movement changes us.
Dust is mentioned repeatedly to reinforce Eveline's own lack of movement. The story opens with her placidly sitting beside her window, watching the world go by. Most of the action takes place in her mind. She almost makes it out of Dublin and to Buenos Aires (literally translated "good air,") the opposite of her dust-covered life in Ireland, but in the end she is too afraid to make the change. It is as if her personal dust had been disturbed by a slight wind, only to resettle once again and cover up her hopes.
Dust, as exemplified in religious terms, such as "ashes to ashes dust to dust". In literature, it can sometimes symbolize our transistant presence here on earth. We start as dust and we ultimately end as dust. It can be seen as the representation of a stagnant part of our lives, where cleansing the dust may be seen as a cleansing of our spirituality.
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