The reader would like very much to see Eveline decide to run away with Frank, in spite of her misgivings and in spite of the fact that they are not married. She is not only overwhelmed by her sense of duty to her family and by her strict Catholic upbringing, but the poor girl just does not have the strength of character to do such a radical thing as to leave her whole world behind her and travel to Argentina with a man she really does not know very well. When Frank urges her to come to the boat, she cannot go through with her decision to escape from Ireland.
She gripped with both hands at the iron railing. . . . No! No! It was impossible. . . . Her eyes gave him no sign of love or farewell or recognition.
The reader feels that this may be her only chance to escape from the drudgery and misery of her life. She is not just losing Frank but losing all hope of freedom. She is like many of the other characters in James Joyce's Dubliners who seem to be living in a sort of vaporous limbo.