Sample Question

"In what light does Joyce present Eveline Hill in the story "Eveline?"

Joyce's techniques throughout the "Dubliners" collection remain very much the same. Keep this in mind. His subjects (decay, urban life, disease, repression, escape) are nearly always the same but reflected in each tale through a different circumstance and a different 'epiphany' or moment of revelation. Eveline is typical of many Joycean traits in these respects. As you go through the story, remember that she cannot be wholly removed conceptually from the other characters in Dubliners and their experiences.

Initially, notice the first line:

"She sat at the window watching the evening invade the avenue."

Notice that Joyce immediately sets Eveline up as a watcher, someone who observes life but does not necessarily take part in it. This will become crucial. Notice too that the evening is said to "invade" the avenue. The sense of oppression is one picked up on by Eveline - from both her family (specifically her father) and her lover.

Consider the second paragraph. It is not about Eveline. She has not yet been introduced properly. She is put in the context of a family environment which has now decayed - and no longer exists in the sense she imagines it. She is portrayed in terms of her past and of what is gone:

"Still they seemed to have been rather happy then. Her father was not so bad then; and besides, her mother was alive. That was a long time ago; she and her brothers and sisters were all grown up; her mother was dead. Tizzie Dunn was dead, too, and the Waters had gone back to England. Everything changes. Now she was going to go away like the others, to leave her home."

We are told that "Everything changes" but we also know from the conclusion that here it appears that nothing does. This is Eveline thinking, not Joyce describing (unless it is ironic, which is always possible). She is determined that everything must change and from this moment it begins to creep up on her: does everything have to change? Eveline is therefore shown as resolute and determined to leave "like the others". The sense is that she is the last remaining.

Notice later that the paranoia that takes the thought of leaving like the priest who has gone to Melbourne into concern about people who will laugh about her. This is small minded stuff, perhaps, but we already sense that she cannot separate herself from the life she knows. She is stuck inside these petty concerns and rivalries:

"What would they say of her in the Stores when they found out that she had run away with a fellow? Say she was a fool, perhaps; and her place would be filled up by advertisement. Miss Gavan would be glad. She had always had an edge on her, especially whenever there were people listening."

Just a few lines later Joyce is opening up as if through Eveline's mind the horrors of the past:

"But in her new home, in a distant unknown country, it would not be like that. 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."

Note that she seeks respect in the realm of love. She wants to become what her mother was not. But also notice that she is set up beside her mother. Her mother has presumably died never having left the abusive father. Eveline, we know, is going to do exactly the same. She is just another version of her mother - a dependent even while she is a provider.

In the paragraph beginning: "She was about to explore another life with Frank" we are told of fabulous far away places. Note how unreal they are, and how suspect these tales are. Although the story is in the

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