How does Joyce give us the main protagonist/character of Eveline in "Eveline"?

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coachingcorner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

James Joyce uses a particular narrtive style to get across his message about Eveline's (and Dublin's ) character. By using the third person omniscient voice he is able to let us know her thoughts, dreams and opinions. We are both watching her from without (like an artist's model or a statue in a window) and from within her mind - we can see it ticking and thinking. So, we get to see her reflective, contemplative and thoughtful nature - and we can tell that she is a thinker rather than a doer. She seems rather passive and the only positive decision she makes in the story is passive-aggressive as she grips,paralysed by indecision, the handrail at the embarkation quay for Buenos Ayres....and simply lets the ship sail without her to a new world.

mstokes | Student

The technique Joyce uses to delineate/draw the characters in "Dubliners" is fragmentary. The collection is divided into stories of youth, adolescence, maturity,  middle age and public life.

Eveline is contained in the adolescence section. We are asked to piece together a profile from the small clues we are given Eveline is a dreamer, at the beginning of the story she is staring out through "dusty cretonne curtains". This indicates that her view and perception of the world is obscured or not clear. We also know this from the sharp way she is spoken to in her employment.."look lively". It is nor that she is lazy though we know she is overburdened in her private life.

She must look after her younger brothers and sisters, she has witnessed the death of her Mother at an impressionable age and her Father is a man who indulges in too much alcohol and can be abusive.

Frank, she thinks, is her answer. He will give her a new life, in Buenos Aires. The reader is asked to imagine a girl who finds shopping on a Saturday evening in Dublin difficult in  South America. The reader must conclude that Eveline is once again dreaming and we know that it is a very long stretch of the imagination.

James Joyce himself commented on his stories in Dubliners. He said that he wished to portray the "stasis" of life in Dublin in the early 20th century. In other words each of the characters suffers from a paralysis of sorts. Eveline's is that she is stuck and at the end she cannot make the decision which will change her life. Her indecision is portrayed as a drowning of sorts.

Hope this helps!!