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James Joyce. Eveline

James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941) was an Irish expatriate author of the 20th century. He is best known for his landmark novel Ulysses (1922) and its controversial successor Finnegans Wake (1939), as well as the short story collection Dubliners (1914) and the semi-autobiographical novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916). With his inventive narrative style and engagement with multiple philosophical themes, Joyce established himself as a leading Modernist. Eveline is a story from Dubliners by James Joyce. Dubliners is a collection of 15 short stories, first published in 1914. The fifteen stories were meant to be a naturalistic depiction of the Irish middle class life in and around Dublin in the early years of the 20th century. They center on Joyce’s idea of an epiphany: a moment where a character has a special moment of self-understanding or illumination.


She sat at the window watching the evening invade the avenue. Her head was leaned against the window curtains and in her nostrils was the odour of dusty cretonne. She was tired.

Few people passed. The man out of the last house passed on his way home; she heard his footsteps clacking along the concrete pavement and afterwards crunching on the cinder path before the new red houses. One time there used to be a field there in which they used to play every evening with other people’s children. Then a man from Belfast bought the field and built houses in it – not like their little brown houses but bright brick houses with shining roofs. The children of the avenue used to play together in that field – the Devines, the Waters, the Dunns, little Keogh the cripple, she and her brothers and sisters. Ernest, however, never played: he was too grown up. Her father used often to hunt them out in the field with his blackthorn stick; but usually little Keogh used to keep nix and call out when he saw her father coming. Still they seemed to have been rather happy then. Her father was not so bad then; and besides, her mother was alive. That was a long time ago; she and her brothers and sisters were all grown up. Her mother was dead. Tizzie Dunn was dead, too, and the Waters had gone back to England. Everything changes. Now she was going to go away like the others, to leave her home.

Home! She looked round the room, reviewing all its familiar objects which she had dusted once a week for so many years, wondering where on earth all the dust came from. Perhaps she would never see again those familiar objects from which she had never dreamed of being divided. And yet during all those years she had never found out the name of the priest whose yellowing photograph hung on the wall above the broken harmonium beside the coloured print of the promises made to Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. He had been a school friend of her father. Whenever he showed the photograph to a visitor her father used to pass it with a casual word:

“He is in Melbourne now.”

She had consented to go away, to leave her home. Was that wise? She tried to weigh each side of the question. In her home anyway she had shelter and food; she had those whom she had known all her life about her. Of course she had to work hard, both in the house and at business. What would they say of her in the Stores when they found out that she had run away with a fellow? Say she was a fool, perhaps; and her place would be filled up by advertisement. Miss Gavan would be glad. She had always had an edge on her, especially whenever there were people listening.

“Miss Hill, don’t you see these ladies are waiting?”

“Look lively, Miss Hill, please.”

She would not cry many tears at leaving the Stores.

But in her new home, in a distant unknown country, it would not be like that. Then she would be married – she, Eveline. People would treat her with respect then. She would not be treated as her mother had been. Even now, though she was over nineteen, she sometimes felt herself in danger of her father’s violence. She knew it was that that had given her the palpitations. 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. And now she had nobody to protect her. Ernest was dead and Harry, who was in the church decorating business, was nearly always down somewhere in the country. Besides, the invariable squabble for money on Saturday nights had begun to weary her unspeakably. She always gave her entire wages – seven shillings – and Harry always sent up what he could but the trouble was to get any money from her father. He said she used to squander the money, that she had no head, that he wasn’t going to give her his hard-earned money to throw about the streets, and much more, for he was usually fairly bad on Saturday night. In the end he would give her the money and ask her had she any intention of buying Sunday’s dinner. Then she had to rush out as quickly as she could and do her marketing, holding her black leather purse tightly in her hand as she elbowed her way through the crowds and returning home late under her load of provisions. She had hard work to keep the house together and to see that the two young children who had been left to her charge went to school regularly and got their meals regularly. It was hard work – a hard life – but now that she was about to leave it she did not find it a wholly undesirable life.

She was about to explore another life with Frank. Frank was very kind, manly, open-hearted. She was to go away with him by the night-boat to be his wife and to live with him in Buenos Aires where he had a home waiting for her. How well she remembered the first time she had seen him; he was lodging in a house on the main road where she used to visit. It seemed a few weeks ago. He was standing at the gate, his peaked cap pushed back on his head and his hair tumbled forward over a face of bronze. Then they had come to know each other. He used to meet her outside the Stores every evening and see her home. He took her to see The Bohemian Girl and she felt elated as she sat in an unaccustomed part of the theatre with him. He was awfully fond of music and sang a little. People knew that they were courting and, when he sang about the lass that loves a sailor, she always felt pleasantly confused. He used to call her Poppens out of fun. First of all it had been an excitement for her to have a fellow and then she had begun to like him. He had tales of distant countries. He had started as a deck boy at a pound a month on a ship of the Allan Line going out to Canada. He told her the names of the ships he had been on and the names of the different services. He had sailed through the Straits of Magellan and he told her stories of the terrible Patagonians. He had fallen on his feet in Buenos Aires, he said, and had come over to the old country just for a holiday. Of course, her father had found out the affair and had forbidden her to have anything to say to him.

“I know these sailor chaps,” he said.

One day he had quarrelled with Frank and after that she had to meet her lover secretly.

The evening deepened in the avenue. The white of two letters in her lap grew indistinct. One was to Harry; the other was to her father. Ernest had been her favourite but she liked Harry too. Her father was becoming old lately, she noticed; he would miss her. Sometimes he could be very nice. Not long before, when she had been laid up for a day, he had read her out a ghost story and made toast for her at the fire. Another day, when their mother was alive, they had all gone for a picnic to the Hill of Howth. She remembered her father putting on her mother’s bonnet to make the children laugh.

Her time was running out but she continued to sit by the window, leaning her head against the window curtain, inhaling the odour of dusty cretonne. Down far in the avenue she could hear a street organ playing. She knew the air. Strange that it should come that very night to remind her of the promise to her mother, her promise to keep the home together as long as she could. She remembered the last night of her mother’s illness; she was again in the close dark room at the other side of the hall and outside she heard a melancholy air of Italy. The organ-player had been ordered to go away and given sixpence. She remembered her father strutting back into the sickroom saying:

“Damned Italians! coming over here!”

As she mused the pitiful vision of her mother’s life laid its spell on the very quick of her being – that life of commonplace sacrifices closing in final craziness. She trembled as she heard again her mother’s voice saying constantly with foolish insistence:

“Derevaun Seraun! Derevaun Seraun!”

She stood up in a sudden impulse of terror. Escape! She must escape! Frank would save her. He would give her life, perhaps love, too. But she wanted to live. Why should she be unhappy? She had a right to happiness. Frank would take her in his arms, fold her in his arms. He would save her.

She stood among the swaying crowd in the station at the North Wall. He held her hand and she knew that he was speaking to her, saying something about the passage over and over again. The station was full of soldiers with brown baggages. Through the wide doors of the sheds she caught a glimpse of the black mass of the boat, lying in beside the quay wall, with illumined portholes. She answered nothing. She felt her cheek pale and cold and, out of a maze of distress, she prayed to God to direct her, to show her what was her duty. The boat blew a long mournful whistle into the mist. If she went, tomorrow she would be on the sea with Frank, steaming towards Buenos Aires. Their passage had been booked. Could she still draw back after all he had done for her? Her distress awoke a nausea in her body and she kept moving her lips in silent fervent prayer.

A bell clanged upon her heart. She felt him seize her hand:


All the seas of the world tumbled about her heart. He was drawing her into them: he would drown her.

She gripped with both hands at the iron railing.


No! No! No! It was impossible. Her hands clutched the iron in frenzy. Amid the seas she sent a cry of anguish.

“Eveline! Evvy!”

He rushed beyond the barrier and called to her to follow. He was shouted at to go on but he still called to her. She set her white face to him, passive, like a helpless animal. Her eyes gave him no sign of love or farewell or recognition.

By James Joyce


The Bohemian Girl is an opera composed by Michael William Balfe with a libretto by Alfred Bunn. The plot is loosely based on a Cervantes tale, La Gitanilla.

Canada is a country in North America, north of the US, which is made up of ten provinces.

The Strait of Magellan is a narrow area of sea between Tierra del Fuego and the mainland of South America. It connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean and was discovered by Ferdinand Magellan in 1520.

Patagonia is a large area in southern Argentina, which has a small population and many sheep farms.

Buenos Aires is the capital city of Argentina, an important international port and one of the largest cities in South America.

1. Translate the following words and word combinations into Russian. Describe the situations in which they were used.

• to keep nix

• to have an edge on smb

• palpitation

• to go for smb

• for smb’s sake

• squabble (for money)

• to weary smb unspeakably

• to squander money

• to elbow one’s way

• to fall on one’s feet

• to be laid up

• to inhale the odour

• to keep together

• to draw back

• nausea

• in frenzy

• a cry of anguish

• a sign of recognition

2. Study the following:

odour a smell, especially an unpleasant one, e.g. It smelt not only of mud and rotting materials, but also the unmistakable odour of human waste.

priest someone who is specially trained to perform religious duties and ceremonies in the Christian church, e.g. For the first time in my life I could not confess all my sins to the priest.

harmonium a musical instrument with a keyboard and metal pipes like a small organ, e.g. Then when we had eaten tea she said she was going to play the harmonium.

to consent (to smth/to do smth) to give your permission for something or agree to do something, e.g. Democratic audiences had to consent to this approach.

advertisement a picture, set of words, or a short film, which is intended to persuade people to buy a product or use a service, or that gives information about a job that is available, an event that is going to happen etc, e.g. Most car advertisements are aimed at men.

violence behaviour that is intended to hurt other people physically, e.g. Police said violence in the city was continuing into the night.

to threaten to say that you will cause someone harm or trouble if they do not do what you want, e.g. Every time we have a quarrel, she threatens to leave me.

to protect to keep someone or something safe from harm, damage, or illness, e.g. It was just that I wanted, foolishly, to protect you from the unpleasantnesses of life.

invariable always happening in the same way, at the same time, e.g. Mrs. Smith’s invariable reply was, “I’ll have to discuss it with my husband.”

elated extremely happy and excited, especially because of something that has happened or is going to happen, e.g. Jeremy felt elated by this sudden and unexpected success.

to court (old-fashioned) if a man courts a woman, he spends time being nice to her because he hopes to marry her, e.g. She finally married a gentleman who had been courting her for years.

indistinct not seen, heard, or remembered clearly, e.g. The light through the blind was going, and his features were indistinct.

bonnet a type of hat that women wore in the past which tied under their chin and often had a wide brim, e.g. Her mouth opened, and stayed so, as her pale eyes widened under the close bonnet she wore.

to strut to walk proudly with your head high and your chest pushed forwards, showing that you think you are important, e.g. The hotel was full of rich people strutting around in fur coats and Rolex watches.

to muse (on/over/about/upon) to think about something for a long time, e.g. He mused on how different his life would have been, had he not met Louisa.

glimpse (of) a quick look at someone or something that does not allow you to see them clearly, e.g. They caught a glimpse of a dark green car.

3. Make up as many sentences as you can using the words from exercise 2.

4. Describe the characters of the story (Eveline, Frank, Eveline’s father, Eveline’s deceased mother). Use the words and the word combinations:

to give smb the palpitations, to take on an incredible burden, to be trapped in an oppressive situation, ungrateful, the weight of poverty and family responsibilities, violent, to go for smb, to work hard, to feel unprotected and exhausted, to keep the house together, manly, kind, open-hearted, to fall on one’s feet, to be awfully fond of music, tales of distant countries, to lack courage and strength, life of commonplace sacrifices, craziness, to be very nice.

5. Answer the questions.

1. Why did Eveline have to work very hard?

2. Why did she feel unprotected?

3. Why did Eveline have mixed feelings about her father?

4. What kind of life did she have?

5. Why did Eveline’s mother go mad?

6. Why was she going to leave Ireland?

7. What was her attitude to Frank?

8. Why did she hesitate to leave?

9. Is the end of the story unexpected? Why?

10. Was it fear of the world or love for her family that made Eveline stay? Comment on your answer.

11. Do you approve of Eveline’s choice? What would you do if you were in her shoes?

12. Which would you prefer: an uncertain but hopeful future or a certain and dismal future?

6. Make up dialogues:

A. Between Eveline and her brother Harry.

Eveline is telling him that she has wished to escape with Frank but has decided to stay. Harry is eager to learn full details of this story.

B. Between Frank and a passenger.

Frank is desperate. He doesn’t understand why Eveline has changed her mind and has drawn back.

С. Between Eveline’s father and his friend.

Eveline’s father is talking to his friend. He is telling him about his deceased wife and his children. He is complaining that Eveline squanders the money and has an affair with some guy.

7. Compose a second part of the story “Eveline”. Imagine what will happen to the characters in 10–20 years.

Points for Discussion

1. Violence in the family.

2. Poverty is no sin.

3. There is no place like home.

4. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

5. The choices we make change our lives.

By Svetlana Yunyova ,
Moscow Regional Pedagogical College, Serpukhov