In both "Eveline" and "The Boarding House," it becomes apparent that the lives of the Irish women of Joyce's stories are certainly limited. For both Eveline and Polly marriage seems to be the only escape from poverty or some misery. In Eveline's case, the hope of running off with her sailor is a new beginning in which she can escape her father's physical abuse and the verbal abuse of her boss, Miss Gavin, while for Polly marriage is the result of her mother's design that she seduce one of the boarders so that he will marry her. But, in Polly's case, she is "a little perverse madonna" who is complicit and even enjoys compromising Mr. Doran:
She waited on patient, almost cheerfully, ...her memories gradually giving place to hopes and visions of the future.... so intricate that she no longer saw the white pillows on which her gaze was fixed or remembered that she was waiting for anything.
Yet, for both the young women, even though Polly has been "waiting" for her mother's summons, the future may hold no real hope. For, Mr. Doran is reluctant to become a groom as he believes, "Once you are married you are done for." And, for Eveline in her paralysis as she is about to board the ship--
She set her white face to him, passive, like a helpless animal--
her only future is to return to her abusive home and her pitiful state of repression and passivity. Indeed, both Polly and Eveline are tragic Irish women in their inability to overcome the social patterning of their dull lives in which they are victims of their own self-deception.