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Eveline Fear of the Unknown

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Eveline Life is all about choices. Some choices are easy and some require a lot of thought. In James Joyce’s short story “Eveline” we read about the life of a young woman named Eveline faced with a decision. To stay in familiarity of her current situation even though she endures a hard life, or pursue independence and adventure offered by her love interest, Frank. Proving, that even though there is something better out there for her, she’d rather stay with her familiar lifestyle.

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Sometimes the fear of the unknown is too great that we allow ourselves to think our current situation is adequate making it hard for Eveline to make her final decision, abandon family obligations and hope for improvement. In order to have change occur, a decision needs to be made, even though there may be some pros and cons. In the text it gives evidence that Eveline’s family has had history with leaving home “Everything changes.

Now she was going to go away like the others, to leave her home” (4). Eveline at this point in the story contemplates her reasons to leave.

Her mother died, one of her brothers died and the other moved away for work leaving the three small children, her father and herself at home. We have reason to believe that she shouldn’t hesitate leaving her father. He’s an alcoholic and constantly threatens Eveline into staying, “When they were growing up he had never gone for her, like he used to go for Harry and Ernest, because she was a girl; but latterly he had begun to threaten her and say what he would do to her only for her dead mother’s sake” (4). He had scared her to the point that “She knew it was that that had given her the palpitations” (4).

Leaving would be the best solution for Eveline she is nineteen and deserves to search for a better life, a life of her own. In spit of the threats and fear of her father’s presence, something draws her to stay. She is comfortable in her home, in her hometown, she knows the people and “She knew the air” (6). It may be argued that one of the reasons she stayed is because if she was gone, the three small children may be the victims of her Fathers abuse. Ultimately, familiarity and comfort triggers Evelines thoughts and through searching for reasons to stay, it becomes apparent she fears the unknown.

Another reason she had to stay was the obligation to her family. Having been raised a Catholic; Eveline feels a strong responsibility to her family, even though it is unstable. Her mother passed away, and she experienced an unhappy life herself, but the Mother still made Eveline promise “her promise to keep the home together as long as she could” (6). This promise is unfair to Eveline. She deserves to find herself as a person and not feel obliged to that promise. However a dying wish is cement, creating another reason for Eveline to stay.

Although she thinks of reasons to stay, she still processes the thought of leaving with Frank, “Escape! She must escape! Frank would save her. He would give her life, perhaps love, too… Frank would take her in his arms, fold her in his arms. He would save her” (6). Frank had desires to sail to Buenos Ayres. Frank finds interest in Eveline and she begins to like him back. Frank asks Eveline to come back to Buenos Ayres with him and this dilemma testing Eveline’s agency begins. She wishes to run away with him in search for her independence.

Evidently Evelines father disagrees with this relationship, “Of course, her father had found out the affair and had forbidden her to have anything to say to him” (6). He defends his argument by telling Eveline, “I know these sailor chaps,” but Frank offers Eveline a sense of adventure, freedom and rebellion. Eveline knows the life she is living is unjust and full of hard work, “But she wanted to live. Why should she be unhappy? She had a right to happiness” (6). Eveline was right why should she be unhappy? She has the right to her freedom and she certainly had reasons to leave.

Moreover, as Eveline sits on the windowsill “against the window curtains” (4) psychologically she is over contemplating and excusing her current situation. She replaces thoughts of escape by recalling memories of her father once being happy. “She remembered her father putting on her mother’s bonnet to make the children laugh” (6) trying to ease her fears she thought “Her father was becoming old lately, she noticed; he would miss her. “Sometimes he could be very nice” (6). Eveline is ultimately placing herself in her own trap of familiarity “Home!

She looked round the room, reviewing all its familiar objects which she had dusted one a week for so many years” (4). She ponders on her life at home. Her life was one filled with abuse, work and more work “she was tired” (4). She then comes to the conclusion that her life wasn’t that undesirable, “but now that she was about to leave it she did not find it a wholly undesirable life” (5). She knows her home and the people there. No matter how bad her life seems to be, and how she wants to escape, Eveline convinces herself home is better than entering the unknown.

In conclusion, Eveline made her decision and chooses to stay in her homeland of Ireland. James Joyce drew on the natural fears of a young Irish woman that they think too much. From those thoughts Eveline rationalizes through her thoughts about the fear of the unknown, family obligations and faith that her current life would get better. Although Franks offer was hard to refuse she chose to stay with familiar territory rather than exploring a new world of possibilities. Proving that the fear of the unknown holds us back from new and exciting opportunities. Word Count: 997

Cite this Eveline Fear of the Unknown

Eveline Fear of the Unknown. (2016, Nov 13). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/eveline-fear-of-the-unknown/

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