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

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The setting of James Joyce's "Eveline" is primarily Dublin, depicted as a city that characters find difficult to leave. The story unfolds in Eveline's home, specifically by a window overlooking the street, symbolizing her trapped and static life. This setting underscores the theme of paralysis, as Eveline contemplates escaping her dreary existence but ultimately remains unable to leave. The narrative is set around the early 1900s, aligning with the time it was written.

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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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What's the setting of the story in "Eveline" by James Joyce? 

Most simply put, the setting of any story is the time and place in which a story unfolds. However, in a larger sense, setting also refers to a story's overall greater environment and establishes the mood of a story. Setting can include "social conditions, historical time, geographical locations weather, immediate surroundings, and timing" (Literary Devices, "Setting").

In James Joyce's short story "Eveline," the story opens with the title character and protagonist, Eveline, sitting at a window in her father's home, at dusk, watching dusk turn to evening. Therefore, the window, the home, and the approaching evening all count as aspects of the setting.  

As we continue to read, due to the narrator's reference to Belfast and the list of Irish names, we learn that the story is more specifically set in a small, unnamed village in Ireland. The narrator's description of change in the village is also part of the setting; more specifically, the narrator reflects on how Eveline used to play in an open field with the other village children, but the field has since been covered with new houses by a "man from Belfast."

Further aspects of the setting include several factors that help identify the culture and society in which she lives: (1) She works as a shop girl for very low wages; (2) her father is a drunkard; (3) her mother is deceased, and she must work very hard to take care of both the household and her youngest siblings; (4) she is afraid to run off with a man to escape her living conditions because she is afraid of ruining her reputation; and (5) most everyone she grew up with has emigrated out of the country.

Due to these cultural references, we know the story is also most likely set around the time that Joyce wrote the story, which was 1914, the same year that World War I started. The hardships the character endures reflects Joyce's own experiences living in Ireland.

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