Plot Summary

 

Eveline
Hill, recalling about her childhood, while looking out the window of her
father’s Dublin home. She and siblings used to play in a field nearby with
neighborhood children from the Devine, Waters, and Dunn families.

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Everything
is different now. Her mother, brother Ernest, and Tizzie Dunn are deceased. The
rest of the children are adults also. Houses now reside in the field where the
children played. The Waters family moved back to England, and the Smith home has
not changed. The old photograph of a priest, who had been father’s friend at
school, still hangs above the harmonium. Her father shows the picture to
visitors, stating, “He is in Melbourne now.”

Eveline
is just about to leave her childhood home and her job at a retail store, where
Miss Gavin always commands her around.

In
her new home in a far-off land, she will be a married woman who is treated with
respect. Her father will not be there to threaten her or treat her the way he
did her mother. He used to not treat her as badly as he treated Ernest and
Harry. Lately, though, he has been threatening her. Harry usually spends a lot
of time out in the country on his church-decorating business.

The
Saturday-night disputes they have are over money. She gives all of her pay, and
Harry gives what he can to their father. But getting money back from him is trial.
After a time, he yields. But he demands her to buy Sunday dinner.

In
supplement to her job, she keeps the house and cares for the children in the
household.

Despite
her tough life, she has hesitations about going to Buenos Aires, Argentina,
with Frank. Frank is kind, Eveline believes. After they met, he nicknamed her
Poppens and accompanied her home from work. He took her to see The Bohemian
Girl, an opera about a woman kidnapped by the leader of a gypsy band. Frank
would also tell her stories about all the domains he visited serving onboard
ships of the Allen Line. When her father discovered about the courtship, he prohibited
her from seeing Frank again. Then they had to meet in secret.

On
her lap are two letters, one to Harry and one to her father. She recollects
that there were times when her father was good company. Only recently, when she
was “laid up” in bed, he entertained and cared for her. Years before,
the family went on a picnic, he wore his wife’s bonnet to make everybody laugh.

Still
looking out the window, Eveline hears the song of an Italian organ grinder
coming from down the street, the same song he played on the night her mother
died. The song reminds Eveline of the promise she made to her mother to keep
the family together as long as possible. But she believes she has a right to
escape with Frank, a right to be happy.

It
is time to leave. Eveline is with Frank, who is holding her hand. Soldiers are
all around with brown bags. The ship calls for passengers with a whistle.
Eveline asks God for guidance. Should she go aboard with Frank or turn back?

As
Frank proceeds, he calls back to her. But Eveline “set her white face to
him, passive, like a helpless animal. Her eyes gave him no sign of love or
farewell or recognition.”