Synopsis of Eveline

Nineteen year-old Eveline Hill is about to elope with her lover Frank and to marry and live with him in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  As she sits alone on her last evening at home she reflects on her past and present life – the death of her mother, her responsibilities in caring for her younger siblings, the family’s shortage of money and the difficulty of dealing with her drunken and violent father.  As she thinks about all these problems she feels that she must escape quickly, but when she meets Frank at the port she finds that she cannot board the boat with him to leave Dublin.

Commentary on Eveline

‘Eveline’ Joyce may have taken the name from a song by Thomas Moore (see earlier note to An Encounter).

a man from Belfast Belfast was a city in the north of Ireland, in the area that is now part of the United Kingdom as Northern Ireland. It is a largely Protestant industrialised city whose inhabitants were thought of as being very keen on making money and uninterested in the arts.

nix a slang word meaning to keep guard

Margaret Mary Alaoque, image available through Creative CommonsBlessed Mary Alacoque Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-90) was a French nun who had several religious visions and introduced the practice of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, images of which were common in Irish Catholic homes at this time.

Melbourne A city in the state of Victoria in Australia.  A large number of Irish emigrants settled in the city in the nineteenth century and many Irish criminals were transported to Australia.  The priesthood was also dominated by Irishmen.

the Stores The shop where Eveline works.

night-boat The nightly ferry from Dublin to Liverpool, from whence Eveline and Frank would be able to embark on a ship to America.

Buenos Ayres Now known as Buenos Aires and the capital of Argentina, a wealthy city which attracted many European immigrants in the nineteenth century.

The Bohemian Girl An extremely popular light opera (first produced in 1843) by Michael William Balfe (1808-70), a Dublin musician.

the lass that loves a sailor A popular song by Charles Dibdin (1745-1814).

Allan Line SteamshipAllan Line A shipping line which operated out of Liverpool, carrying passengers to the west (Pacific) coast of America, via Buenos Aires and then sailing round Cape Horn at the southern tip of South America.

the terrible Patagonians A nomadic tribe occupying the southern part of Argentina.  Little was known about them in Europe but they were thought of as being especially savage.

Damned Italians! Although there were not many Italian immigrants in Ireland, this reference suggests that some Dubliners resented their presence.

Derevaun Seraun! No-one is sure exactly what this means!  It may be a nonsense phrase but it has the general sound of Gaelic, the native language of Ireland.

the North Wall The dock in Dublin from which the nightly ferry to Liverpool departed.

Investigating Eveline...

  • How is the theme of ‘home and away’ treated in Eveline? (see Themes for ideas)
  • Eveline is one of only four female protagonists in Dubliners. What narrative techniques does Joyce employ to tell the story from Eveline’s perspective?
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