In James Joyce’s Dubliners, the protagonists of various stories share numerous similarities. In two stories, both Polly and Eveline face conflicts regarding marriage, which they resolve differently.
The boarding house in that story’s title is where Polly lives with her mother, the proprietor. The mother, seeing the male boarders as potential suitors for her daughter, expects Polly to end up married to the best prospect. Polly, while acknowledging that marriage is the likely final outcome, has her own approach to securing the future groom’s commitment: seducing Mr. Doran. Despite her mother’s distress at her daughter’s ruined reputation, Polly has managed to achieve the desired goal.
Eveline, in the story that bears her name, is a more obedient daughter, but in contrast to Polly, her desires are distant from those of her family. Because of her mother’s death, she must step into the maternal role. Her love for Frank can be fulfilled only if she rejects her family and leaves Ireland with him. Ultimately, her fear combined with her family commitment derail her plan, and Frank sails away without her.