Sympathy for Eveline?Does Eveline change during the course of the story? Are you sympathetic towards Eveline? Explain your reasoning with specific examples from the text.

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Paul Dunbar's poem "Sympathy" begins, "I know why the caged bird sings...." Eveline of Joyce's story is a psychologically caged bird.  She sings of freedom just as does Dunbar's bird, but she is trapped and will never "fly" because she is crippled by her paralysis, her passive surrender to familial duty that she has promised a dying mother.  While one feels sorry for Eveline, there is also some repulsion for one with so much spiritual inertia, who does not understand that she should escape when she can.

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gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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I have only mild sympathy for Eveline, but that's due mostly to Joyce's style. I admire his works, but I never care about his characters, due to the stylized nature of his prose.  

As far as changing, yes, she changes, but in an austere way. Eveline becomes more frozen, and her life more empty, through the story. Look at the story's final lines: " She set her white face to him, passive, like a helpless animal. Her eyes gave him no sign of love or farewell or recognition." While she had been tired at the start of the story, she hadn't been this, well, dead. It's a quiet, disturbing change, but it is a change.

jaz33jaz's profile pic

jaz33jaz | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

i have sympathy for her because, she made a promise to her mother and at that moment the guilt overwhelms her and she know she must stay with her siblings.

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