Do you consider Eveline's final decision wise or foolish? 

Asked on by sangamethu

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Of course, there are opposiing opinions on the decision of "Eveline" in James Joyce's Dubliners. And, the strong influence of the Catholic religion plays a part in Eveline's decision since she has promised her mother, who has died, that she will keep the family together as well as making a promise to Mary that she will do the "proper" thing.  This religious aspect is extremely important as Joyce often wrote in reaction to the control that the Church had upon Irish-Catholics.  It is no coincidence that Eveline's name resembles Eve, who was also faced with a deeply religious decision.

On the other hand, Eveline realizes that her frail body cannot continue to take the physical abuse of her father.  In order to survive, she must leave.  But, this departure will leave her little brother vulnerable.  Who will intervene for him?  Who will cook for him?

With religious connotations again, Eveline reaches what Joyce referred to as an "epiphany."  She decides to not sin; she remains true to her promise to her mother and Mary, and she becomes the sacrificial lamb, so to speak. 

Thus, the decision comes down to two questions:  Does she do what she needs to survive?  Or, does she risk scandal by leaving unmarried with a man, breaking her vows to her mother and Mary and deserting her little brother?

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