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Eveline is a young woman of nineteen but her repressed personality appears like that of a child. She works all day-at the shop bullied by her supervisor, at home doing all the housework and baby sitting two children, yet she has no status or independence at. Being the breadwinner and the woman of the house, she is treated like a small child and behaves like one. She has surrendered her financial independence to her father and with it the capacity to think for herself, to feel deep love for a man, to decide her own future. Critics have described her as "a case of arrested development" and the description is apt.
Her passivity is obvious even in the way that Frank has to take the initiative in the relationship. She seems to see him only as a means of escape, and would like to exchange a harsh "protector" for a kind one. In the earlier stories, the boy is sadder and wiser after facing a particular experience.
Eveline is incapable of becoming wiser. Her suppressed individuality has made her incapable of living a more intense life. At the end, we know her future will be one of those same "commonplace sacrifices" to which her mother succumbed, perhaps even the madness, which took, over her mother’s mind.
In Eveline there is no epiphany or moment of realization, except perhaps for the reader.
He is a stereotypical Victorian father. We see him through her eyes as repressive, violent, domineering, miserly and selfish. Though it is suggested he may have been less so in his youth, the mother’s fate suggests that there was no real difference in him. Rare flashes of a more affectionate person are shown, but they are exceptional. He obviously has no plans to settle Eveline with another suitor. Thus his main purpose seems to be to exploit her selfishly for the rest of his life.
We see Frank only through Eveline’s eyes as kind, manly, attractive and a romantic representative of adventure and excitement. Eveline sees him as a kindly and generous protector in place of her harsh and selfish one. Frank represents joy and pleasure for her, as the organ-player does, and both are banished from the scene. Frank is never a full-blooded character, only a symbol here.
In the latter part, he symbolizes turbulence, her sexuality, the unknown-"he would drown her." Hence, she dismisses him - ‘the unknown’ in favor of the familiar, however unpleasant.
PLOT STRUCTURE ANALYSIS
With this story too we begin with Eveline musing over her life, revealing her present situation to us. Her past and her mother’s are revealed in flashback. Neither her father nor Frank are brought before us. Her mother’s life and end obviously foreshadow Eveline’s own-but we are kept in suspense about her decision up to the end. Thus a tension is maintained in this story.
The stultifying influence of the so-called traditional values of family duty and obedience and their destructive effects on a weak personality are shown in this story.
SYMBOLISM / MOTIFS / IMAGERY / SYMBOLS
Dust is associated with the unending drudgery of her life-"she inhales the odor of dusty cretonne." Music is loved by Frank, who sings a little. He takes her to a concert which she enjoys- "The Bohemian Girl"-the title itself a contrast to her own life. Hence, Frank, like the street musician is banished from her life.
The sea is juxtaposed with the dust of her present existence. She must cross it to make her new life. The freedom and turbulence of the sea frighten her-she fears that Frank "would drown her."