What is Eveline's turning point in her life in Joyce's "Eveline"?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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"Eveline" is the last story in James Joyce's The Dead that contains an epiphany, or a sudden realization within the character. It begins with Eveline's contemplation of the life she plans to leave: an abusive father, a marginalized existence in which she is in a demeaning position at work as well as in the home.

But, above all, Eveline cannot escape her misgivings about leaving her little brother, nor the promises that she has made to her mother. Tragically, the assertion of psychological freedom is impossible for Eveline. Surrendering to her circumstances, Eveline becomes paralyzed when it is time to jump onto the ship with her sailor, who entreats her, "Eveline! Evvy!" And, so, Eveline foresakes freedom, love, and life for her past, duty, and living death.

He rushed beyond the barrier and called to her to follow.  He was shouted at to go on but he still called to her. She set her white face to him, passive,like a helpless animal.  Her eyes gave him no sign of love or farewell or recognition.

Eveline feels that Frank will drown her in the water that is symbolic of rejuvenation. Her incapability of striking out on her own is her ephiphany,or realization.


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