How do "Araby" and "Eveline" reflect Joyce's tendency for epiphanic endings rather than resolutions?

Quick answer:

Joyce's tendency to conclude stories with epiphanic moments rather than resolutions is modernist because the epiphanic moments link to the modernist drive to illustrate the tension between subjectivity and reality and to subvert conventional literary tropes.

Expert Answers

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With "Araby," the epiphanic moment comes when the unnamed narrator realizes the superficial aspects of his actions. His preoccupation with getting to the bazaar and acquiring a gift for Mangan's sister has clouded his judgment. His infatuation with trying to impress this girl and buy her something leads him to act rather irrationally.

This epiphany connects to modernism because modernists focused on how a person’s consciousness clashed with reality. Modernists addressed the gap between subjective reality and external reality. An onlooker—someone other than the narrator—might have an easy time diagnosing the boy's unreasonable behavior. Consumed by his interior logic, the boy is unable to confront his incoherence until the end.

As for "Eveline," the epiphany appears to arrive when Eveline realizes that it's "impossible" for her to leave her home and run off with Frank. Similar to "Araby," this epiphanic moment relates to modernisms concerns about the subjectivity of reality. Only at the end is Eveline able to overcome her interior version of reality and confront the irresistible pressures of her actual world.

One could also think about how the epiphany in "Eveline" links to the modernist tendency to disrupt conventions. Read as romantic fiction, Joyce subverts the romance genre by having his protagonist turn down the chance at a thrilling, romantic affair. In other words, the epiphanic moment of "Eveline" qualifies as a modernist tendency because it departs from traditional expectations of love stories.

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