What decision does Eveline make at the end of the story and why?
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...
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When Eveline arrives at the North Wall to board the boat with Frank, she is shown to experience a sudden, shocking epiphany as she is about to board the ship that will take her away with Frank to start a new life and grant her the escape that she desires. We learn that she seems unwilling to finalize her plan to leave. She prays to God to make a decision for her rather than having to make it by herself. The questions that come to our mind are – why is she asking God to show her what her duty is, when she already knows that? Instead, is she not supposed to ask God to show her what her way is? And why has she come to the station if she still has not made her decision? All the textual clues suggest that she is too intimidated to accept the new world, like other characters in Dubliners. Her action also shows her inability to take charge of her own life, as she has to leave the decision to a higher authority such as God. We can see that she is paralyzed by the impact the overwhelming call of duty has on her, which is symbolized by the promise she made to her mother before she died, as something that she is unable to escape from.
Eveline feels she is being trapped. It is as though she is doing Frank a favor. She seems to worry that she will let him down if she does not go with him. As he urges her to come to board the ship, she is paralyzed and utterly terrified by the new world he is pushing her towards:
All the seas of the world tumbled about her heart. He was drawing her into them: he would drown her.
The image of her metaphorical drowning, which symbolizes fleeing both God and her responsibilities, keeps her frozen to the iron railing. Eveline experiences a literal paralysis that becomes more powerful than her desire to leave her home. When she refuses to go with Frank, she is described as "passive, like a helpless animal," which clearly indicates that she lacks agency and the ability to leave her home for something unpredictable as Buenos Aires. Eveline’s conviction that “everything changes” is ironically refuted at the end of the story as she decides to stay in Dublin.