What is the theme in "Eveline"?

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anzio45 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I take the theme of 'Eveline' to be one of Joyce's key preoccupations, the idea of paralysis, our inability to break out of situations that have become home for us, even when those situations are unpleasant or worse. Most of the story is taken up with Eveline's reflections and her attempts to balance her decision: 'She tried to weigh each side of the question.' But it is fairly clear from the sheer volume of people and things that she reflects on that she is desperately attached to them, however perverse it may seem. Her father is a deeply unattractive figure who controls her life and yet she finds a few pathetic good memories of him, telling her a story and making toast for her when she was ill and putting on her mother's bonnet for a laugh. The fact that she notes his ageing is also a clue that she will not follow through on her emigration from Ireland.

So I take the story to stand for any such situation in which the familiar, however oppressive or enslaving it might be, is always...

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