Analysis of Eveline and the Women of Her Time

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Born and raised in Ireland, James Joyce was the oldest of ten surviving children born to Mary and John Stanislaus Joyce. Apparently, Joyce’s childhood greatly influenced his fiction and provided settings and much of the subject for all of his writings. Written in 1914, the short story “Eveline” reflects the issues of that time period in Ireland. Set against the backdrop of the Irish suffrage movement, Eveline, the title character, is greatly affected by feministic issues typical of its period. By exploring Eveline’s relationships with men, the society’s expectations of her, and her obligations toward her family, James Joyce not only focuses on the theme of escape, but also the moral history of his country. Eveline, a nineteen-year old, is much like the young women of Ireland in the early twentieth century. Having lost her mother and an older brother, Eveline is obligated to take up much of the responsibilities of the household at a young age while taking care of a drinking father and avoiding his abuses. Despite all these, Eveline still treasures the memories of a happier time. She recalls lovingly of her childhood when she was allowed to run around with the neighborhood children and the one occasion when her father was “very nice” (Joyce, 3). All Eveline’s happier times end with the death of her mother, and she is forced to face her unhappiness with her present life. Her one chance of escape comes with a young man named Frank. Frank, a sailor, promises to take her away to Buenos Aires and give her a respected married life. As a result, Eveline is torn between her conflicting desires—her desire to pursue happiness and desire to stay loyal to her family. Eventually, she decides to go with Frank. However, due to Eveline’s fears of the unknown and the societal expectations of women at that time, Eveline is unable to let go of her past and embark upon a new

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