In "Eveline," what decision does Eveline make at the end of the story and why?

In "Eveline," the decision that Eveline makes at the end of the story is to stay put in Ireland instead of leaving with her lover, Frank, for Argentina. She makes this decision because she is in the grip of a debilitating inertia that prevents her from making necessary changes to her life. In that sense, for Joyce, she symbolizes contemporary Ireland, with its parochialism, lack of ambition, and cultural paralysis.

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Right up until the end of "Eveline," it seems that the eponymous character is going to take a leap of faith and head off with her lover, Frank, halfway round the world to start a new life in Argentina. Eveline certainly has no good reason to stay where she is. Slaving away as an unpaid skivvy for an abusive father and toiling long hours at a low-paid job at the "Stores," Eveline leads a very hard, unhappy life in her native country.

And yet, despite all her many problems, Eveline chooses to stay put. Instead of joining Frank aboard the ship bound for Argentina, she remains rooted to the spot by the quayside, almost as if she's frozen in fear. To most people reading the story, Eveline's decision doesn't really make much sense. But in evaluating Eveline's actions, it's important to develop empathy for her.

Among other things, this means recognizing that Eveline is a young, uneducated woman who's somewhat naive about the wider world. Her life in Ireland may not be much, but it's all she's ever known. As such, her horizons are limited; so limited, in fact, that she's unable to see beyond them. A new life in Buenos Aires may look exciting on paper, but for someone of Eveline's background, Argentina might as well be on the far side of the moon.

Whatever Eveline's reasons for staying put, it's clear that Joyce intends her to stand as a symbol for the parochial, unambitious Ireland from which he escaped and which was, he believed, firmly in the grip of cultural and intellectual paralysis.

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Eveline decides not to go away with Frank after all. The author doesn't really tell us why she makes that decision, but from the way she behaves it is as if she is having a panic attack.

All Eveline knows is her family. Since her mother's death, she has become the surrogate mother to her siblings. All of her salary goes to take care of the house and her family, and she gets very little help or support from her father. She is a young woman who should be living her own life, and she sees Frank as her means of escape. Maybe because her world is so small, or because this life is all she knows, the closer the time comes to leave it, the greater her fear grows until finally she's almost paralyzed by that fear and does not board the ship with Frank.

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