In James Joyce's "Eveline," what does Eveline's father think about Frank?

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mdelmuro eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In James Joyce's story "Eveline," Eveline's father forbids her from having anything to do with Frank because, as he says, "I know these sailor chaps." There are two ways in which this can be interpreted:

  1. Eveline's father is attempting to protect his daughter from  this "sailor chap." 
  2. Eveline's father would object to anyone who courts his daughter because it would disrupt his lifestyle.

Like all Joyce stories, the answer is probably not simple and is perhaps a combination of the two possibilities. 

Eveline's father is dependent on his daughter as he counts on her to keep the household together. He would take all of Eveline's wages and then after spending much of them as he would come home "fairly bad of a Saturday night" (drunk), he relies on the girl to do Sunday's shopping. In addition, he counts on her "to keep the house together and to see that the two young children who had been left to her charge went to school regularly and got their meals regularly. If Eveline leaves with Frank, all of this stops and her father must figure out how to make it on his own.

However, it's also possible that Eveline's father is right about Frank being one of those "sailor chaps." Throughout Dubliners, the collection of stories that includes "Eveline," sailors are seen as perhaps untrustworthy. In one of the book's previous stories, "An Encounter," the boys go on a boat looking for adventure. In recent analysis of the story, some experts believe it is possible that Frank was not attempting to woo Eveline toward a marriage, but was tricking her into becoming a sex slave.