This study guide will help you analyze the short story “Eveline” (1914) by James Joyce. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it and putting it into perspective.
Here, you can read an extract from our study guide:
The social setting explores the different roles of men and women at the beginning of the 20th century. In the story, the gender roles are different. After her mother’s death, Eveline becomes her replacement and needs to support the household. She is dutiful and obeys her father, even though he is abusive towards her. Moreover, she gives away her small wages, which means that she is not allowed to be financially independent.
On the other hand, Eveline’s father has a dominant role. He is the man of the house, which means that he is able to order Eveline around. The narrative implies that he is an alcoholic, and he does not have to give an account for the way he spends his money. Consequently, Eveline is in a submissive, inferior position, while her father is the dominant one.
Similarly, the social setting looks at the limitations of women at the beginning of the 20th century. Eveline wishes to get married to have someone to protect her, as she feels alone after her mother’s death. She earns small wages and she cannot support herself financially, making herself dependent on her father. Although she is afraid of her abusive father, she makes herself believe that “her father was becoming old lately” and that “he would miss her. It should be noted that, even by leaving with Frank to Buenos Aires, the decision would not belong entirely to Eveline. She would simply be following Frank to the place where he has already decided to settle. In this way, even though going to Buenos Aires might imply that Eveline would be escaping her life under her father’s control, she would still be dependent on Frank.