In James Joyce's Dubliners, of which the story "Eveline" is part, all the adolescents are failures, and Eveline certainly is one. From the dark beginning until the end, Eveline has a sense of her own powerlessness.
In the exposition, for instance, a fatigued Eveline sits at a west [symbolic of death and an end] window of her dismal brown house whose curtains smell of dust, a scene suggestive of her failure to come. There is foreshadowing of her indecision and paralysis as she looks around the room and conjectures,
Perhaps, she would never see again those familiar objects from which she had never dreamed of being divided.
In addition, there are innuendoes of her religious servility as Eveline remembers her promises that she made to Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque, promises that hinder her decisiveness. Further, Eveline has misgivings about the strength of her abilities as she reflects how Miss Gavan at work "always had an edge on her" and she hopes that she will be treated "with respect" in her new home. With more misgivings, Eveline later ponders her conditions at home: her father's violence countered by her feelings that
It was hard work--a hard life--but now that she was about to leave it she did not find it a wholly undesirable life.
Then, too, there are the promises Eveline has made to her mother:
As she mused the pitiful vision of her mother's life laid its spell on the very quick of her being--that life of commonplace sacrifices closing in final craziness.
With all these impediments to Eveline's departure as well as an uncertain future with a sailor in the foreign city of Buenos Aires, a city known for adventurers and prostitutes, Eveline entertains many doubts about breaking free of her old life; consequently, she Frank calls to her to board the ship for the New World, Eveline becomes a victim of what Joyce called the Irish paralysis.
[see the essay on Eveline and signs of paralysis]