With respect to Joyce's "Eveline," what could be a thesis statement for a 4 paragraph thematic essay about Eveline's family relationships?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

James Joyce's story "Eveline" depicts the tragic dilemma of a young woman trapped in a life that seems beyond her control, and although she has a chance to leave her home, she surrenders pathetically to her existing life. For, in all her familial relationships, Eveline is subservient, submitting to the wishes of her dying mother as well as submitting to abuse from her father in order to protect her younger siblings.

Even at her job, Eveline is servile to Miss Gavan, whom she feels

always had an edge on her, especially whenever there were people listening.

It is only if she leaves with her sailor and gets married that Eveline thinks she can gain dignity: "People would treat her with respect then."

Therefore, in composing a thesis statement for a four-paragraph essay, the writer needs to make a general statement about Eveline's position in her family; that is, one that describes the relationships she has with the individual members, wording it with two opinions that can each be developed into topic sentences for the body paragraphs.

Asking "What is her relationship like?" will probably generate a thesis statement. Since it seems apparent that Eveline places herself in a servile position with her parents and even her younger siblings. (She sits at the window just watching the darkness settle upon the street outside as the story begins and is "tired" after her father's abuse), perhaps, a thesis statement could be constructed with this as a main idea. Then, composing two opinions which can be supported with details from the narrative will generate the two topic sentences for the body of the essay. Here is an example:

Thesis statement  

In her relationship with her brother, her father and even her mother, Eveline has allowed them to dominate her psychologically (=general statement)

  • because she is submissive (=opinion)
  • and servile (=opinion).                      

[Develop these two ideas into topic sentences.]  Support these ipinions with examples such as Eveline's promise to her dying mother, her submitting to abuse from her father, and placing her own welfare far below that of others.]Notice how Eveline cannot believe that she deserves to liver her own life, and instead submits to the servile one in which she finds herself.  

kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To develop a thesis statement, start by looking at the specific details of Eveline's family relationships. Her mother, for example, died when she was young, leaving Eveline to take over her domestic responsibilities. Before she died, however, Eveline promised that she would "keep the home together for as long as she could." 

Eveline fondly remembers playing with her siblings as children. Ernest was her favorite, but he died before Eveline became an adult. She also likes her brother Harry, but he is away from home, working as a church decorator.  

Eveline's relationship with her father is tense and abusive. He spends her wages on alcohol and threatens her with physical violence. 

Bringing together all of these elements, we can conclude that Eveline's family relationships are complicated. After the death of her mother, she became the family's maternal figure, who suffers her father's abuse only because of the promise she made. Ultimately, however, it is only her father who remains and whom she cannot escape, even when she has the chance to be free.