In "Eveline," what pattern or structure is there to the debelopment of the plot?

Expert Answers
accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the fascinating aspects of this short story by James Joyce is the way that the structure of the story, most particularly in the presentation of Eveline and what she does (or doesn't do), is so closely related to the theme of the story and the general paralysis that Joyce saw as besetting his native Ireland.

In a sense, the structure of the plot goes full circle, as we start off with a very powerful image of Eveline's inability to be assertive and dictate her life based on her own needs. Note how she is presented in the first paragraph of the tale:

She sat at the window watching the evening invade the avenue. Her head was leaned against the window curtains and in her nostrils was the odour of dusty cretonne. She was tired.

Immediately, Eveline is cast in the position of a spectator to life, unable or unwilling to participate in it herself. The image of her looking at life through her window is one that impresses itself upon the reader's mind.

Yet note how she is described at the end, and how this description correlates with how she is presented at the beginning of the story:

She set her white face to him, passive, like a helpless animal. Her eyes gave him no sign of love or farewell or recognition.

We see how Eveline, after briefly contemplating fleeing and a rebellious escape from responsibility, returns to exactly the same situation and state that she is shown to occupy at the beginning of the story: passive and unable to assert herself. The plot and its structure emphasises the theme of paralysis in Joyce's writings.