James Joyce's story Eveline portrays a young Irish woman's tragic dilemma. She is caught in circumstances in her home that are beyond her control, and although she has a chance to leave, she surrenders pitiably to these circumstances.
As she sits at the window watching the twilight and smelling the "dusty cretonne" reminiscent of her mother's funeral, Eveline recalls how there used to be a field across the way where she and others played as children. Keogh, the little cripple would keep watch for her father.
Still they seemed to have been rather happy then. Her father was not so bad then; and besides, her mother was alive. That was a long time ago; she and her brothers and sisters were all grown up; her mother was dead....Now she was going to go away like the others, to leave her home.
Eveline's happy memories return to her in contrast to the yellowing photograph--suggesting corruption--of the priest near the coloured print of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque, to whom Eveline has promised to care for her brother. Yet, under the print of the Blessed Margaret, Eveline suffers from misgivings. After all, the fear of the unknown is sometimes worse than that which is familiar. This is what causes her paralysis when she does not board the ship with Frank.