What is the plot of "Eveline" in Dubliners?

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dule05 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

“Eveline” was the second story of the volume that Joyce wrote, and it was first published on September 10th, 1904, in the issue of the "Irish Homestead" (Fargnoli and Gillespie 52).

As far as the plot is concerned, there is not much happening in this story because the emphasis is on the mental struggle of the heroine, her thoughts, concerns and memories. The story is about a young woman, Eveline, who feels stifled by the monotonous routine of her Dublin life, household responsibilities, and her abusive father. Therefore, she seems to want to escape with Frank, the man she likes, to Argentina in order to start a new life. The whole story is about a dilemma related to what choice she should make. While she does find her present life utterly disappointing, running away to Argentina would entail saying goodbye to a sense of comfort and familiarity which her present life offers. However, if she decides to run away with Frank, she may find love and safety which she says she needs (she feels threatened by her abusive father), but that new experience may also be quite overwhelming for her, and she does not know what she will have to deal with.

When we finally think that Eveline has made a choice, given the fact that she agrees to come with Frank to board the boat which would take her to Argentina, we realize that she feels terrified to embark on a new journey, thinking that such a move would destroy her:

"All the seas of the world tumbled about her heart. He was drawing her into them: he would drown her."

The story ends on a gloomy note -- Eveline decides to stay in Dublin and is described as "passive, like a helpless animal," which clearly means that she is unable to change her life for the better, like the majority of characters in Dubliners.


Works Cited

Fargnoli, A. Nicholas., and Michael Patrick. Gillespie. Critical Companion to James Joyce: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work. New York, NY: Facts On File, 2006. Print.

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