In Joyce's "Eveline," what in the story prepares us for Eveline's behavior?

Expert Answers
Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In James Joyce's "Eveline," Eveline is conflicted about whether to leave her home or stay.  This internal conflict is visible throughout the story.  The story opens with Eveline looking out the window observing and reminiscing.  She remembers when there used to be a field to play in where there are now houses, and she remembers all the people who have died or gone away.  She second guesses her decision to leave home:

Home!  She looked round the room, reviewing all its familiar objects which she had dusted once a week for so many years,...Perhaps she would never see again those familiar objects from which she had never dreamed of being divided.

She asks herself if the decision was "wise," and tries to "weigh each side of the question."  Thus, the reader is prepared for her behavior at the end of story.  The reader knows she is conflicted.

That said, the ending still bites the reader.  Although we are prepared with the knowledge that she is conflicted, readers, perhaps, still can't believe she would stay.  Why would anybody stay?  Her present existence is portrayed in such a way that she has no business staying.  The ending is foreshadowed by her internal conflict, but is still shocking because her present existence is so nasty one finds it hard to believe she would stay. 

Of course, this is the point.  In conjunction with the other stories in Dubliners, Joyce is portraying a Dublin that is paralyzed and blind.  Eveline is no exception.