How does the 5th paragraph reflect the writer's main concern in his short story?"Eveline" by James Joyce

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the fifth paragraph, Eveline of James Joyce's short story ponders the rather ambiguous opportunity afforded her.  She can run away with the sailor who has suggested adventure to her, or she can remain at home.  As Eveline considers how the people at the store where she works will react and how she will no longer be subjected to her father's abuse, she reflects upon his threats to her and his cruelty when he is "fairly bad of a Saturday night."  She imagines how she has had to purchase groceries in the night, clean the house, and care for her younger siblings:

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.

Now that she considers leaving her family, Eveline experiences what Joyce termed "paralysis."  Eveline has the opportunity to leave her oppressed life behind, yet she is reluctant. For, an overwhelming sense of fatalism is present in Eveline as a "pitiful vision" of her mother's life "laid its spell on the very quick of her being."  Eveline has promised her dead mother that she would care for her siblings. So, although she tries to convince herself that "Frank would save her," Eveline is incapable of making the assertion of psychological freedom; she becomes paralyzed emotionally:  "Her eyes gave him [Frank] no sign of love or farewell or recognition."