Does the first paragraph of "Eveline" predict the end?

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Nestor Streich eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In a way, the first paragraph of James Joyce's "Eveline" does predict or foreshadow the end—although it may not be obvious as one is reading the short story (which eventually became a chapter in Dubliners).

She sat at the window watching the evening invade the avenue. Her head was leaned against the window curtains and in her nostrils was the odour of dusty cretonne. She was tired.

From this opening scene, Eveline thinks about her childhood—it was relatively happy, though not without its challenges, and since then, she has lost both her mother and favorite brother. Her father is a drinker, and her day-to-day life is hard and exhausting. When she meets Frank, a sailor, she sees a way out. At this point, the reader might think that the beginning of "Eveline" is the start of Eveline's story, but it proves to be the ending point as well. Eveline chooses to stay in her current life rather than to embark on a new adventure with Frank. She stands with him at the boat they are to leave on, gripping the iron railing, praying for an answer to the decision of whether to leave with him. She feels a sense of duty to her father and late mother and feels a fear of the unknown. Finally, it is time to leave, and she lets him go wordlessly:

She set her white face to him, passive, like a helpless animal. Her eyes gave him no sign of love or farewell or recognition.

She has chosen to return home, where she will lean her head against the curtains and be tired once more.

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Mike Rosenbaum eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In a way, it certainly foreshadows the situation Eveline finds herself in as the story closes.  In the first paragraph she is alone and staring out a window - perhaps looking out upon the world that moving along while she is by herself and motionless. 

In the end, Eveline is again alone and motionless and the crowds of people sweep past her on to the boat.  She watches them go, but does not go with them.  Comparing the two scenes, readers can assume that the character of Eveline is doomed to inaction throughout her life.

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ftosh | Student

in some way yes.

in the first paragraph we can notice that eveline has no active in her life ; paralyzied; and she always confused. she can't choose her dirction in life by her self ; she cant make up her mind. we cant predicit that she will choose to stay and not leaving with frank because in the first paragraph no informatins are mentined but we can predicit a bad end .


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