Eveline Questions and Answers
by James Joyce

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What is the setting of "Eveline" by James Joyce ?

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"Eveline," like other stories in Joyce's Dubliners, foregrounds the city of Dublin almost as a character in itself. It is also portrayed as a city people are unable or unwilling to leave, even when the opportunity is presented. The greater part of the story takes place by Eveline's window. From here, she looks over the street and contemplates the miseries of her life. The story both begins here and ends here: the reader almost believes that Eveline will succeed in leaving Dublin, as she plans to go to the docks to leave with her sweetheart, Frank. Ultimately, however, Eveline is not able to embark on the journey to Buenos Aires—characterized as somewhere almost as far from Dublin as it is possible to be—and the end of the story sees her immobile at her window. It is poignant that what keeps Eveline from leaving is the song of an organ grinder that makes her remember a promise she made to her mother: the secondary implication of this is that Eveline's life will be exactly like her mother's: with no hope of advancement or escape.

"Eveline" was first written in 1904 and seems to be set contemporaneously with the time in which it was written.

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In general, the setting of James Joyce's "Eveline" takes place in Dublin at either the end of the 1890s or the beginning of the 1900s. More specifically, the bulk of the story takes place by a window in Eveline's father's house in the evening. Like all of Joyce's stories in Dubliners, the story involves some representation of paralysis. The setting contributes to this theme of paralysis because, as Eveline sits in her father's home, we get the sense of someone who is trapped and unable to move forward in life. Even worse, when Eveline gets the chance to escape this situation, she decides to stay. Therefore, the setting becomes a claustrophobic place that ultimately seems to be closing in around Eveline and preventing her from progressing or growing as an individual. Joyce's decision to stage most of his story in a single location reinforces this notion.  

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