In "Eveline," what does the epiphany of Eveline say about her as a person and her relationships? 

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As Frank calls to Eveline, she grips the iron railing with both hands,having pulled her one hand from him. For, in her paralysis, she feels that "he would drown her." She cannot summon enough courage to go with him onto the ship which will take them from Ireland. Clearly, the assertion of physical and psychological freedom is impossible for Eveline. The epiphany is more the readers' than Eveline's, for her paralysis is what drives the narrative of Joyce's story.

Caught in so many circumstances that seem beyond her control, Eveline surrenders pathetically to them. For instance, she has made promises to Bessed Margaret Mary Alacoque and her religious beliefs torture her, she feels she must care for her two younger siblings because she has promised her mother to do so; she worries that her brother will be abused after she leaves.  in short, Eveline feels herself a victim, a victim of her circumstances. She can only pray to God to direct her because she cannot choose the course of her life herself.

Eveline hears her mother's words, "Derevaun Seraun! Derevaun Seraun!" The end of pleasure is pain. And, her pleasure with Frank also ends in pain; she stays behind, ever the passive victim, who can only dream of being treated better because in her wasted hopes of a new home, 

People would treat her with respect then.  She would not be treated as her mother had been. 

But, she has let these hopes slip away as she stands "like a helpless animal" in her fear and insufficiency of will, her paralysis.

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