What do you think about Eveline's father?

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dule05 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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When we read the story, we are immediately aware that Eveline's father is not a good person. He is one of many reasons why Eveline wishes to escape from Ireland to Argentina with her lover Frank. Eveline says she fears her father would physically hurt her like he used to hurt Harry and Ernest, her brothers. He is the reason why Eveline has developed palpitations:

Even now, though she was over nineteen, she sometimes felt herself in danger of her father's violence. She knew it was that that had given her the palpitations. When they were growing up he had never gone for her like he used to go for Harry and Ernest, because she was a girl but latterly he had begun to threaten her and say what he would do to her only for her dead mother's sake.

Although Eveline's father has never physically harmed her because she is a girl, Eveline fears that he might do it since he has started to threaten her. Her father is often verbally abusive, and Eveline has a hard time convincing him to give her his money so that she could buy food or the necessary items for home. He would rather squander his money on drinks than help his daughter pay the bills. He'd also accuse her of spending his own money unreasonably, not intending "to give her his hard-earned money to throw about the streets."

Eveline's father makes Eveline feel rather tired and frightened. She needs safety and comfort, offered by her lover Frank. This is why she wants to run away with him. She desires to embrace a more fulfilling life, which would not consist of repeated arguments with her father.

Nevertheless, Eveline also has some pleasant recollections of the time she spent with her father when she was younger. Back then, when her mother was alive, her father was good-humored and gentle to her:

Sometimes he could be very nice...when their mother was alive, they had all gone for a picnic to the Hill of Howth. She remembered her father putting on her mothers bonnet to make the children laugh.

All in all, the past and the present clash in Eveline's mind, leaving her confused, restless and unable to change her life for the better.



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renelane eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Eveline's father is not a good father in any sense of the word. Eveline's memories and anecdotes about him all surround his drunken and abusive behavior. The first incident the reader learns about is the time he went hunting for his children in the field with a stick.

Eveline admits that he is violent when he drinks, and tries to rationalize it away by saying he usually left her be. The abuse usually focused on her now deceased mother and older brothers.

Eveline is forced to try to care for him, and yet he does heap abuse on her and makes her life difficult. He berates her for wasting his money, which is for food, while he blows it on booze. Eveline is stuck to contend with his drinking and violent temper.


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