Eveline by James Joyce
Essay 2 Leaving the only “home” that one has ever known can be very emotional, especially when you hold so many memories and have established a routine of life in that home. Many say “live life to the fullest,” yet they come up with excuse after excuse that holds them from leaving. They feel as if they can’t make this decision on their own. Trying to find the meaning of life and making attempts to discover the reason why they were put on this Earth is hard enough. Every day one lives new experiences that we hope will one day lead us to our destined future.
Yet, for so many, not knowing where to begin keeps them from moving forward. Reminiscing on the memories created in our home; thinking about how much those memories have faded, and will eventually disappears if they are to leave that home. Being attached to the environment that one is used to or the routine of life holds one back from what the future could hold. Even when given the key to escape, thinking too hard makes one doubt their ability to adapt to a new environment. “What if’s? ” and breaking that routine of life gives one fear of failure, not “making it” once leaving the environment.
Feeling stuck in trying to find meaning of life makes it easier to come up with excuses to stay in the routine in which one is accustomed to. This is true because it is what happened to Eve line in “Eve line” by James Joyce from Ireland during the early 20th century. No matter how many times Eve line sits and thinks about moving forward, and living new experiences, she was stuck in her past and thinking about it so much does not let her move on and travel to break out of her routine and bad habits. Joyce does an excellent job illustrating Eveline’s decision making process with language and symbols throughout the short story.
He begins by telling us where Eve line is sitting in her home “at the window watching the evening invade the avenue” as she smells the “odor of dusty cretonne” letting readers know that it was a particular aroma that he had to describe. As she is looking out she begins to reminisce on the memories that she still has of the big open field where all the children of the avenue used to go out and play when she was younger. Joyce choice of character names for those children’s families (the Devines, the Water, and the Dunnes) helps the reader picture them as very friendly neighbors who Eve line almost saw as family.
The name “Eve line” is another clear symbol that the author makes in the story comparing the main character to “Eve” from the “Adam and Eve’s” biblical story where “Eve” is confronted by the serpent or “Satan” just like Eve line was always confronted by her father out in the field or the “Garden of Eden” as the biblical story goes. Eve line believed that her father “wasn’t so bad then” and that she used to be “happy” then but now everything was different. Joyce reminds the reader many times that Eveline’s mother isn’t alive any more, letting the reader know that Eve line still lamented this loss so much.
One of the “Dunn’s” had also passed now and “the Waters” had moved back to England. She didn’t want to be another person who just left her “home” full of those memories of the past. Joyce repeats the word “Home! ” and emphasizes it using an exclamation point as if Eve line was reminding herself that it was the only home she knew. Eve line reminisces on the smallest details of her home, like “the objects she had dusted once a week for so many years” and the “yellowing photograph hung on the wall” which her used to always pass and quotes his exact words “”He is in Melbourne now. ” The picture was above the broken harmonium and beside the “print of the promises made to Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. ” Margaret Mary Alacoque is a Saint of the Roman Catholic Church who was very popular in Ireland during the early 20th century. The broken harmonium is another symbol that Joyce uses to connect the reader to the “broken” environment of her home and of Ireland in general. With all the memories Eve line holds of her home she had still “consented with Frank to leave with him and leave it all behind. Eve line begins to really doubt her self.
Her mind is spinning and not knowing if her decision was wise. She would break her routine of working hard at home and at work. She was only 19; she begins thinking about what everyone else would say about her. She imagined everyone at her job would think she “had run off with a fellow” and would stir up all kind of lies and rumors. Still undecided Eve line begins to build a fantasy of “Buenos Ayres” which is where Frank has promised to take her. She imagines being a married woman, treated with respect and not the way she was treated at home by the father.
Joyce makes it clear to the reader that Eve line is terrified of her father, he would still “threaten her and say he would do it for her dead mother’s sake. ” Eve line has no one to make her feel safe from him. Ernest her brother was dead, and her other brother Harry was in “the church decorating business” and was never home. She had too much responsibility in her home and no one to help her with it all. Her father never helped out with money and the “[children] left to her charge did not make her life any easier.
With all this she still didn’t find it a “wholly undesirable life” writes Joyce indicating that Eve line is still hesitant of leaving with Frank. Joyce describes Frank as a “very kind, manly, open hearted” guy who Eve line saw as the only person who could protect her from her father. He tells her they will go on the “night-boat” and that she will be “his wife” in “Buenos Ayres” where “he already had a home waiting for her. ” Joyce shows how naive Eve line is being about Frank. She had met him not too long ago and had gone out with him a couple times.
He had given her a nickname, Poppens, and met her outside of work every evening. Frank had many “tales” about the places he had sailed to all around the world and explains how he had “fallen on his feet to Buenos Ayres. ” Although Eve line didn’t see any of Franks flaws Joyce does use language to prove that Franks intention’s with Eve line may not have been good one’s considering that during that time Buenos Aires, Argentina was well known for its sexual trafficking. Her father finds out about the relationship and forbid Eve line to keep seeing Frank calling him a “sailor Chap. Joyce brings the reader back to the present and gives more excuses for Eve line not to leave her home. She held two letters on her lap, one to Harry and one to her father, she noticed her father becoming old and thought that he would probably miss her, she reminisced on the moments which her father was nice. Joyce illustrates Eve line still sitting on the couch, having just moments left to make her decision. She the odor of “dusty cretonne” returns and she begins to “hear a street organ play” just as she did the night of her mother’s death and the promise that she had made to her mother.
She promised her mother to “keep the home together as long as she could. ” Most of all it reminded her of the life her mother had lived, “that life of commonplace sacrifices closing in on final craziness. ” She wanted to break that cycle that her mother had. She wants to escape that life and believe that “Frank would save her [,] give her life, perhaps love, too. ” Joyce exposes to the reader that Eve line is aware that Frank doesn’t love her and if she leaves with him there is a chance that things do not work out between them.
Upon arriving to the station Eve line looks around examining everything around her. She is still isn’t sure if she is getting on that boat. ”She prayed to God to direct her” she wanted to know what she “was her duty. ” At that moment the boat blew “a long mournful whistle. ” Eveline’s decision is determined by of the “mournful sound. ” She thinks about “tomorrow” how she would break out of her routine if she leaves with Frank. Eve line chooses to stay home. “Her eyes give [Frank] no sign of love, farewell or recognition”