What kinds of  indirect characterization are employed in Eveline? 

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While there are four different ways in which authors develop their characters using indirection characterization--

  1. through a physical description
  2. through the thoughts of the character
  3. through the character's own actions
  4. through the comments and reactions of other characters

--for the most part, James Joyce employs only two of these techniques; namely #2 and #3. For, he makes use of Eveline's thoughts by means of the Modernist technique of interior monologue. In addition, Joyce utilizes imagery to connote Eveline's being "spiritually lost."  As she sits, leaning against the dusty drapes watching the field where she used to play and the brown houses, Eveline reflects upon how her father "was not so bad then" and her mother was yet living. Eveline also contemplates her intentions to leave home.

Glancing around the house, Eveline notices more dust, suggestive of immobility and death-in-life as she deliberates her decision to leave, qestioning its wisdom. But, she recalls her subservient positions both in the home and at work where Miss Gavan "had an edge on her": 

"Miss Hill, don't you see these ladies?...Look lively, Miss Hill, please."

So, Eveline concludes, she will not miss the Stores, hoping that in her new home people will treat her with respect, and not as her mother has been treated.

Even now, though she was nineteen, she sometimes felt hersel in danger of her father's violence.

Eveline reflects upon the father's control, how he takes her salary and she must beg for money for groceries. And, she thinks about how he squanders the money on drink, concluding that hers is a difficult life, but she is going to leave it. However, Eveline also thinks,

It was...a hard life--but now that she was about to leave it she did not find it a wholly undesirable life.

These ruminations of Eveline provide much insight into her character. Eveline is of the abused personality, submissive to others, hurt by others, yet reluctant to sever her relationships with others. as the day grows "indistinct," so, too, does Eveline's resolve.Eveline becomes somewhat paralyzed mentally as she continues to sit by the window in the growing dusk. With imagery, Joyce expresses the approaching death of her dream as she leans against the curtains and inhales the "odour of the dusty cretonne." Suddenly, her promise to her dying mother comes into her mind and she hears her mother's final desperate cries.

Terrorized, Eveline clutches the idea that Frank will save her from her brown and dusty existence of obligation and abuse. As she enters the dock, she prays to God for direction; the ship on which she is to board blows "a long mournful whistle." But, just then "[A] bell clanged upon her heart" and Eveline becomes paralyzed, fearful of her lover now, fearful of the unknown. She grips the iron railing, refusing to board the ship. Eveline is so terrified with uncertainty that she cannot escape her old life. Therefore, she trades her freedom for duty and a "dusty" existence of mundane chores and abuse from her father.