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Thursday, February 25, 2010

James Joyce's "Eveline"

In James Joyce’s “Eveline” the reader is presented with a young woman with a dilemma: stay in her oppressive home or flee to a foreign country and have an unsure future. Eveline is a girl of 19 who has been forced into maturity after her mother’s death. She must cook, clean, work, and care for her father and younger siblings each and every day. She has recently made plans to go to Buenos Ayres with a young man who claims to have a home there. The girl does not simply go along with the invitation, and her maturity is manifest through here consideration of her options up until the final moment where she must physically enter the boat or not. I believe Joyce is presenting us with a realistic view of cliché situations of romance, where a young woman is whisked away to an exotic country by a masculine sailor. Though Eveline has a mostly undesirable home life, she also does not know what may become of her if she were to leave. Her lover, Frank, could abandon her in a far-away place, they might exist in utter destitution, or grow to resent each other if forced into constant proximity with one another. In reality it is not a clear choice, but rather the lesser of two evils that must be chosen. We see the psychological process of one that has been put into such a situation, racked with uncertainty and difficulty. Another aspect of the difficulty is forcing oneself to change. Eveline is not just moving a few hundred miles away, but halfway around the world. She is being asked to uproot her entire life and forget the routine she has made since her mother’s death. Also, she must deal with abandoning her father and younger brothers, as well as breaking a promise she made to her mother years ago. Her final decision cannot be labeled as correct or incorrect, since the definite pros and cons of either option are not known. Joyce’s story serves as an interesting psychological view of an individual that must make such a complex choice: self-satisfaction or the care of others.

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