The comparison that we are given between the present and Eveline's memories of the past is very different. The past seems to occupy a special place in Eveline's memory of happiness and tranquil freedom. Note what the text tells us about what she remembers about the field near her home before it was used for building houses:
One time there used to be a field there in which they used to play every evening with other people's children... The children of the avenue used to play together in that field--the Devines, the Waters, the Dunns, little Keogh the cripple, she and her brothers and sisters... Still they seemed to have been rather happy then. Her father was not so bad then; and besides, her mother was alive.
Since her childhood memories of freedom and being able to play with the local children from her neighbourhood, it seems as if a whole succession of bad things have impacted Eveline's life. She hs grown up, her mother has died, her relationship with her father has worsened. As the narrator comments, "Everything changes." The innocence of childhood is therefore reminisced over with considerable happiness, especially given the momentous decision that Eveline must make in the present. Innocence has been exchanged for experience and the complicated world of being an adult.
Her youthful memories are sometimes dark and ominous and also very hectic and tiring and very confusing as she had to juggle between work and home. She is still a youth but she had to take up responsibility to many of the tasks like cooking for her abusive and ungrateful father and also to take care of the young children at home who had been left under her charge as their mother had passed away long ago and Eveline had to take up the burden to take care of the young ones. She is also scared of her father's frequent abuses and she is also weak from all the hard work she had done. She had to work at the dry goods store to earn for a living to support the family and this provide a financial burden. She also had to bear with her boss, who often is very demanding and unreasonable and often likes to pushed her around. She wanted to get away from her messy and tragic life but she had make a promise to her deceased mother that she would hold the family together intact through thick and thin. She wanted to go and emigrate with her boyfriend, Frank who had offered to take her to Buenos Aires and officially married her there, as a result abandoning her father, going against his wishes as her father had forbidden her to meet up with Frank.
Although Eveline's thoughts are generally somewhat dark and depressive, she idealizes her childhood memories even when the circumstances are bleak.