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Family Decisions in James Joyce’s Eveline from Dubliners

Family Decisions in “Eveline”

In growing up there is never a day that goes by when we do not have to make a decision. While making these decisions, we are influenced by our family and friends. In James Joyce’s “Eveline,” the family structure is important in the decision making abilities Eveline possesses. Eveline’s choice whether to go with her lover Frank to Buenos Ayres is not her own, but rather is one greatly determined by her family. Because her family is dysfunctional, Eveline is also dysfunctional, and she is not able to leave her unhealthy home environment for a new life with Frank.

One member of Eveline’s family who affects her choices is her mother. In many families mothers and daughters have a life-long bond where a mom will give her child advice, but in Eveline’s case her mother gives her orders. While Eveline’s mother is on her deathbed, she asks Eveline to make a promise to “keep the home together as long as she [can]” (6). Evelline promises to do this for her mother not knowing that this promise may keep her trapped in a dead-end life forever. To keep this promise, Eveline works day in and day out. She works at the Stores to make money for the family and then returns home to take care of her younger siblings. Eveline’s life is “hard work–a hard life” (5), but she manages to do it every day although she is not happy. With all of her responsibilities to her family, Eveline finds it difficult to think about leaving her home to go with Frank, a sailor who has asked her to marry him. The promise her mother asks her to make affects her decision because she cannot break her promise to her mother in order to keep her promise to Frank. The death-bed promise may not have been meant to keep Eveline from happine…

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…mother’s unhappy lot. Unfortunately, when she gets to the docks, she fears that she will be doing the wrong thing if she leaves–and the thought that her life may turn out like her mother’s anyway may cross her mind (her mother has told her that “the end of pleasure is pain” [566]).

So, caught between the fear and the guilt her parents have bestowed on her, Eveline is not able to make a decision at all. She remains frozen in emotional paralysis, and, as Frank calls to her, she “[sets] her white face to him, passive, like a helpless animal” (567). Eveline’s family has destroyed her ability to make a decision of her own; we assume she will return to her dusty home where she doesn’t know the name of the priest in the photograph and the children she cares for are not her own.

Work Cited

Joyce, James. Dubliners. New York: Washington Square Press, 1998.

Homosexual Theme in Tennessee William’s Cat On A Hot Tin Roof

Homosexual Theme in Tennessee William’s Cat On A Hot Tin Roof

In his essay “Come back to the Locker Room Ag’in, Brick Honey!” Mark Royden Winchell discusses several aspects of the homosexual theme in Tennessee William’s play Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. Winchell describes the play as subversive because it casts doubt onto the innocence of male companionship, the two most tolerant characters are the most overtly heterosexual characters, and homosexuality is depicted as a personal rather than social or political problem, despite the time period of this play. I think that Winchell is correct in all these thoughts, but what I want to know is what was Williams’ approach, and that is never answered.

In Cat On A Hot Tin Roof Williams goes out of his way to question whether a very close male friendship can be purely and completely innocent. Winchell discusses this idea throughout his essay, but never gets to the simple point that literature up until the time of this play may have questioned the innocence of a female companionship, although even this was rarely overt, but,li…

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