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Father – Daughter Relationship in the Eveline
Magdalena Chowaniec Fra-Ang I
In the Joyce's short-story "Eveline" the reader is aquainted with a female protagonist that has
quite a peculiar ralationship with her father. At first we may assume that the nature of the ralation is
simple. We suppose that the girl is being abused and neglected by her father. In the story we can
observe a popular trend in literature, which is an alcoholic father that is destroying the life of a
young woman, whom is Eveline. Yet the situation is more complex than it seems. It reveals its depth
in numerous ambivalent thoughts Eveline has on her family and childhood. Despite all the
malfunctions of the father-daughter relationship the dominant emotion between the protagonist and
her parent is love.
Eveline gives us a thorough interpretation of her family life. She finds it essential for making
the major decision, a decision that will define the rest of her life. She recalls the memories of her
childhood and of the times when her father "was not so bad". The first feeling she describes is fear.
She's afraid that he might get violent around her but at the same time she doesn't believe in him
being capable of doing it. He never treated her the way he treated her brothers because he was
aware of her being a girl. Nevertheless she knows he is broken because of her mother's death. His
actions are unpredictable. Moreover he ruins the family by taking all her money on Saturday nights.
Here it is clearly suggested that he uses her wages to drink himself into insensibility. Thereby he is
seemingly ignorant, irresponsible and most of all selfish. He indeed is the main source of all her
hardships and problems.
Yet at the same time he is somehow aware of how hard he is making her life. Giving her the
money to run the errands from time to time indicates that he cares for both of them to have
something to eat. He might be destructive but he seems to have a desire for lessening the demages
he causes. He shows the most care when he forbids Eveline to date Frank. He's genuinly worried
about his daughter. He doesn't want her to be hurt and as a man he knows best of what she's
edangered. He even had an argument with her lover, what means he feels the instinct of protecting
her. In the sentence: "I know these sailor chaps." he expresses more than we may suspect of him. He
reveals his willingness to protect his daughter from other men. He shows us the image of a
stereotypical protective father, an image that is well-known to every young woman.
Eveline mind comes back to the happy moments with her family. She remembers her father
being kind to them and making them laugh when her mother was alive. This is another proof that he
loves his children yet he's far too damaged by loosing his wife to show the affection to his offspring
properly. Eveline debates weather she wants to have this kind of life. Life that is marked by
constant fear and insecurity.
Eveline is not sure if she wants to escape from her father or if she wants to stay with him
knowing that she'll have to continue experiencing his moods and threats. Her family is a steady
feature of her life, something that she has known for ever. Her father is the one with whom she
would spend her life. We can be certain that she loves him despite of his alcoholism, rudeness and
violence. It's stronger than the fear of being hurt by him, because after all she is his daughter and it
makes her feel obliged to take care of him. This feeling of obligation is an essential factor that
helped her make the decision to not leave Ireland.
One of the reasons for the feeling of obligation in Eveline may be the fact that she was
raised by catholic religion. This religion is deeply rooted in the girl's conscience. Catholicism
teaches that parents need to be loved and respected regardless of their actions. Eveline is perfectly
aware of the importance of this commandment. She feels responsible for the wellbeing of her father.
She knows that later in her life she'll have to nurse him and help him. Her time will be split between
fighting for financial survival and taking care of her parent. Nevertheless she decides not to escape
from this kind of future. She embraces it and trusts what she knows instead of risking it all for the
vision of a happy life with a barely known man.
Eveline notices that her father has changed recently. She says that he would miss her. She
perceives his small gestures of kindness as "very nice". She wants to believe in him being good and
loving his children. It is common for people to look for goodness in their loved ones. She wants to
believe in the image of a caring father although he let's her see it quite rarely.
In conclusion love for a parent is much stronger than the desire to pursue a better life.
Eveline is grateful to her father and indeed loves him dearly so she's not eager to leave her home
even though she knows that life with him won't be easy or calm. She is aware of the difficulties
she'll encouter yet she decides to stay with him. She doesn't mind the fear and the struggle for
money because that's what she knows and she accepts to cope with it. Her father loves her strongly
and he doesn't want to loose her. He seems to subconsciencly feel that she has the idea of departure
in mind. He starts to miss her, as she noticed. Although he doesn't show it clearly he want to keep
her. He doesn't want her to leave or even grow up. He's displeased with her having a fellow because
it means that she's not a child anymore and that's she's ready to have her own family. The
relationship between them is not clearly defined with boundaries of parental love. It is also filled
with pain and hardships. Nevertheless despite all of the problems Eveline and her father have a deep
emotional realtionship. There is nothing extraordinary in that. They love each other as any other
family, they just don't show it so clearly.