Eveline's father falls into the stereotype of a drunk. Not only is he is a drunkard, but he is also abusive to his children, perhaps retaliating against them for his misery because of the death of their mother.
In his anthology of short stories about the residents of Dublin, James Joyce writes of the stultifying effects of the Catholic Church and the rule of the English (who displaced many Irish in their economic positions), and, especially, the lower-middle-class desperation in the crowded streets of Ireland's capital. Eveline's father probably joins other men in the pubs in their grievance and resentment against the colonial government and their own personally disappointing positions in life. Full of this resentment and drink, he returns home and makes the children the target of his wrath and frustration.
The idea of what Joyce viewed as paralysis drives the narrative of "Eveline."
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.
Further, as Eveline contemplates marrying Frank and moving away, she feels that
People would treat her with respect then....She would not be treated as her mother had been. Even now....she sometimes felt herself in danger of her father's violence.
There is a clear reference to physical abuse. In addition, the father is psychologically abusive. Eveline works as a shop girl and hands over her entire earnings of seven shillings to her father, who refuses to give her any of it for her pleasure on a Saturday night, telling her she squanders her money, and he is not going to "give her his hard-earned money to throw about the streets."
Yet, despite the abuse, Eveline cannot bring herself to really leave her family. While she is worried for her little brother, who will bear the brunt of the abuse if she departs, Eveline also demonstrates the pattern of many abused women in her paralysis as she finds the assertion of psychological freedom impossible.