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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

James Joyce’s “Eveline”: A Close Reading

“Then she would be married—she, Eveline. People would treat her with respect then. She would not be treated as her mother had been. Even now, though she was over nineteen, she sometimes felt herself in danger of her father’s violence” (28).
Doing a close reading of this passage in the context of the entire short story, a couple of key issues and themes present themselves. The first is the issue of her imminent marriage generating respect from others. Eveline says that if she gets married “people would treat her with respect.” This statement implies that single young women of that time period in Ireland were not treated with as much respect as men and treated with less respect than married women. The next issue is violence towards the women in her family at the hands of her father. She cites that her mother had been mistreated in the past and she feels “in danger of her father’s violence”. She as well as her mother was physically abused by her father. The final issue of the passage is the issues of respect and physical abuse driving Eveline to marry this man and leave Ireland forever. By marrying this man she will have respect as a married young woman which is a step towards social equality. Also, her marriage will allow her to move out of her father’s house and escape further physical abuse.

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