Eveline by James Joyce

Hello there reader!

Lately I have been in a mood to read short stories by variegated writers (for lack of time to read a full fledged novel). Short stories often manage to enlighten me with a quick lesson or two and at the same time manage to get me thinking.

So, I have decided to blog about a few such stories that touch my heart.

Eveline by James Joyce is certainly one such piece.

A rather short story but with a plot and character that manage to provoke introspection in the reader. It talks about a young woman who is on the horns of dilemma. She has to make a choice, a choice between her freedom from a monotonous, insecure life under the menace of her once loving father and the long standing promise to her dying mother.

The story instantly connects with the reader. Eveline, weary of her father and his violent threats, fatigued by a life of dullness remembers a time when things were better. She is nostalgic for a time when her mother was alive, her father was a somewhat better man and her brothers were by her side.

Now even though several people from her past have died, moved on or changed, Eveline still thinks of the past. She continues  to bear her father’s threats and live in her childhood home. Maybe because she made a promise to her dying mother to hold the house together, for as long as she could.
The extent to which she goes to keep the promise, shows her integrity of character.

Or maybe it’s because she is too afraid to move on to a better place. The known is safe. Her hometown, her father, are the things she has known her whole life. She has some sense of safety in being surrounded by these known elements.

Which is why when given an opportunity to flee away with a young gentleman who promises to take her to a better place, she is unsure.

This opportunity scares her because it means leaving everything she knows behind for a future she knows nothing about.

It could be because she is reluctant to trust this young man fully because of the men in her life. Her father mainly.
One wonders if Eveline will ever have a healthy relationship in future given her past experiences.

The reader can relate to Eveline on many levels.
How often have we ourselves found ourselves too scared to move forward, take a leap of faith, or try something new because we are too scared to let go of the past? How often have we let go of something that could’ve been a great opportunity because we were too scared? A job away from home, a new relationship, a new profession?

When judgement day comes and Eveline has to finally make a choice, she finds herself “paralyzed” – unable to make a decision, unable to move forward and incapable of showing any emotion. She makes a decision to stay in the same hell hole she hates. The decision is made somewhat subconsciously.

As the story ends, the reader questions if Eveline will be ever able to move forward?


A personal remark, Eveline makes me question about all those women out there who are too scared to move forward. Be it from a toxic relationship, a horrible job, a sense of responsibility. I don’t mean to say that one should give up on their duties and promises without thinking. What I mean is, one should know when to move forward.

Just because the unknown scares you, doesn’t mean it is necessarily bad.

Have any of you read the story? If so, what do you think about it? Comments are welcome.

If not, you can read it here – http://www.online-literature.com/james_joyce/959/

Copyright(c) Sneha P

image source – youtube.com


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