In this quote from James Joyce's Eveline, how does the word "invade" relate to the story's theme? "She sat at the window watching evening invade the avenue." 

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Eveline is one of the short stories in the Dubliners collection by James Joyce. The opening line, "She sat at the window watching the evening invade the avenue," prepares the reader for Eveline's own internal anguish and fears and the ultimate battle that she cannot win. Eveline thoughts are, effectively, invaded by hopes for the future and the potential for a better life but she is soon overwhelmed by her past and her responsibilities. There is an opportunity for her to escape her life but now she romanticizes it, thinking it's not "a wholly undesirable life." 

The theme of escape is familiar to James Joyce's work and Eveline's "paralysis" and complete inability to escape her situation is a common thread. Eveline is "tired" and her lack of commitment is obvious as she allows herself to be led rather than taking control. "She had consented" to go away with her true love, suggesting that she has little control over that either, and her lack of excitement is indicative of the trap and the drugery she seems doomed to.

Invaders often bring hope to the people trapped in abusive countries where human rights are secondary. Not everyone welcomes an invasion, preferring the safety of the existing situation rather than the fear of an unknown and potentially worse scenario.  Eveline is required to battle against her own demons but is not strong enough to carry it through. Allowing her "duty" to be an acceptable excuse, as "time was running out" and she knows she will not get this opportunity again, forces her to drift back into her paralysed state. The opening line reveals, like in any invasion that she is "passive, like a helpless animal."