Eveline, one of his short stories from the book Dubliners. Eveline is a depiction of a young woman coming of age in nineteenth century Irish Catholic traditionalism that has oppressed her well being. Her images of happier family times surround her thoughts all while daydreaming of the excitement of an existential livelihood she desires with her lover, Frank. James Joyce uses Eveline’s stream of consciousness, the characterization rendered from inside the conscious and unconscious content of the mind, for the reader to understand the dilemma Eveline goes through to decide her fate.
Tradition and values weigh upon the decisions in life even if it distorts what the heart and soul desire. James Joyce uses Eveline’s stream of consciousness throughout the story to show the reader the dilemma she is having with her traditionalism and her desire to be an existentialist. At the beginning of the story she is staring out the window breathing in the dusty cretonne realizing all of the changes in her neighborhood and the people she knew growing up.
Eveline thinks about the people around her that have either emigrated or passed on from death. “Now she was going away like the others, to leave her home”(114). When Eveline says this, it makes the reader feel she is being punished and sent away, it seems to be part of her consciousness reprimanding her for leaving the home that has provided shelter and food. With the symbol of the dust filled curtains, it gives the reader the vision of Eveline’s suffocation.
She recalls the hard work and effort put into the household to keep things together after her mother died and the possessiveness of her father to keep Eveline for the filial obligation. She states, “it was hard work-a hard life-but now that she was about to leave it she did not find it a wholly undesirable life” (115) . Here she begins to understand the family values that are instilled for the structure, in traditional life, to carry on.
Eveline’s mind then floats to the scenes of her lover, Frank vicissitudes her with kindness and the chance to explore a new, bohemian lifestyle. This would be her chance to escape the ordinary of which she was accustomed. During this recollection, Eveline recalls Frank singing to her and how “she always felt Hale 3 pleasantly confused” (116), thus revealing how the reader can see she may be toiling with the idea of leaving for Frank or would she leave for her own well being.
On the docks to leave for Buenos Ayres, Eveline’s conscious recall her mother’s death bed and “mused the pitiful vision of her mother’s life laid it’s spell on the very quick of her being” (117). One can sense the surrendering of Eveline to her home and to the traditional guilt of Catholicism. Here she is inwardly screaming to escape from this inner torture. At the climax point of Eveline the reader believes she is ready to escape until she evokes God with prayer and guidance.
When Frank seizes her hand, there is the same feeling of possessiveness that was within her father and she come to realize that “he would drown her” (117) indicating another symbol of suffocation. She watches blankly as he boards the boat to a faraway land that now only her imagination can bring her. James Joyce’s use of the stream of consciousness point of view is brilliant. The story of Eveline gives an illustrative view of a woman’s controversy between the traditional and the existentialist lifestyle she yearns for.