The following paper will deal with the character Frank in James Joyce’s “Eveline” from his collection of short stories Dubliners. The focus of this paper will be to investigate whether Frank’s motivations for taking the story’s main character Eveline with him are based on honest romantic feelings towards her or whether he fits the stereotypical picture of the sailor who is “yarning a girl into his bed in every port” (Ingersoll 59) and rather uses her. So the research question of this paper is as it follows: Is Frank a lying seducer or is he the savior Eveline is seeking?
A discussion how to interpret Frank’s motivations has developed on the basis of Hugh Kenner’s “Molly’s Masterstroke” and is fairly controversial. On the one hand, there is Kenner’s opinion of Frank as a common sailor who only tries to seduce Eveline, on the other hand, there are scholars who identify Frank as Eveline’s savior from her domestic life and strongly dispute on Kenner’s point of view.
To begin with, it is inevitable to have a brief insight on the text regarding Eveline’s domestic situation and her interior struggle to understand why she considers leaving with Frank in the first place. In the further course of the paper, the research question will be analyzed by first having a look on how Frank is described by the story’s third person narrator with Eveline as the focalizer. Focalization “refers to the lens through which we see characters and events in the narrative” (Abbot73), meaning that the reader sees through the eyes of the focalizer and hence witnesses their subjective view. Then, the possible importance of the name Frank, their destination Buenos Aires, their planned journey and finally his behavior towards Eveline will be examined, on the basis of the discussion above mentioned.
2. Eveline’s situation
The story’s main character is Eveline Hill, she is 19 years old and has to take care of the household and her family since her mother’s death and in addition to that, she has to work at the stores to support the family financially (Joyce 28). Because of these duties, her father’s violence towards her and his constant drunkenness, her life has become hard and undesirable (Joyce 28, 29). Meeting the sailor Frank from Buenos Aires opens up the opportunity to leave and find a new life in freedom and happiness (Joyce 31). But the promise she gave to her mother on her deathbed, to take care of the family as long as she could, leads to an internal struggle whether to leave or not (Joyce 30). Although her father warns her not to follow Frank by claiming “I know these sailor chaps” (Joyce 30), meaning the stereotype of a sailor to “have a girl in every port” (Benstock, 429), it is obviously not the doubt about Frank’s sincerity that brings Evelin to stasis, but her fear of leaving Dublin with her home and family and especially the inability to move forward which is criticized by Joyce (St. Jean 668).
3. Narrator’s description of Frank
As is it...