July 23, 2013
The short story "Eveline”, by James Joyce, illustrates the behavior of some
grown children in a typical lower middle-class household. The behavior I refer to is loyalty, honor, and duty to one’s family. Throughout the story “Eveline” is conditioned by her parents to put family first. How many people today live by this code? Some readers of Joyce’s story would find the main character weak because she is reluctant to leave the things familiar to her. Leaving a difficult situation is easy, the hard part is staying and put one’s own dreams on hold. “Eveline” shows this courage at the end of the story when she chooses to stay.
Eveline, even though she's grown, is bearing the weight of her mother's dying wish; "that she keep the home together as long as she could" (6). Wouldn't a better wish to be for the freedom and happiness of her daughter? But instead, “Eveline” is made housekeeper and caretaker of her aging, verbally abusive, alcoholic father.
Only someone who's been brainwashed would take care of a man who finds it necessary to threaten her, "she sometimes felt herself in danger" (5). “Eveline” stays even though her father leads her to believe she's lacking in her care of him through his statements "that she had no
head". “Eveline” has, apparently, since her childhood been programmed to serve, and obey, regardless of her own wishes.
“Eveline” is so programmed to do what is asked of her, without regard for her own feelings. A ray of hope comes when she meets Frank. Frank offers "Eveline" an opportunity to escape her jury life of servitude, even after her father forbids her to see him. Does he care or is he afraid of losing his servants? This relationship offers her a glance of possible happiness; but groomed as her mother's replacement, when the occasion to start a new life with Frank presents itself, "Eveline" so condition, and program to fulfill her duty, at the last...