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The Waters, the Dunns, and the Devines Character Analysis

Three families that used to live on Eveline’s street. She mentions playing with children from these families during her childhood, but now the Waters have gone back to England and Tizzie Dunn has died. Though Eveline does not specify, it is implied that the other families have also either moved away or died.

The Waters, the Dunns, and the Devines Quotes in Eveline

The Eveline quotes below are all either spoken by The Waters, the Dunns, and the Devines or refer to The Waters, the Dunns, and the Devines. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Paralysis and Inaction Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Eveline published in 1993.
Eveline Quotes

Still they seemed to have been rather happy then… 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.

Related Characters: Eveline Hill, Eveline’s Father, Eveline’s Mother, The Waters, the Dunns, and the Devines, Ernest, Harry
Related Symbols: Water
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:

Eveline is very familiar with death. As she lists the friends and family members who have died, along with those who have moved away, it becomes clear that these are essentially equivalent in Eveline’s mind. To Eveline, leaving Dublin is a form of death, and the way she discusses both death and moving away without emotion, and as though they are the same, highlights the idea of being dead while alive. She has felt “dead” her whole life since she has been trapped in uninspiring Dublin and a constricting family situation, and so the idea of actual physical death does not provoke a lot of emotions from her. She sums death up coolly, reducing it to “Everything changes.” Her emotionless attitude about death serves to highlight the idea that she is, in a sense, already dead.

The fact that other families and individuals have moved away also emphasizes that Eveline’s desire to escape is not unique; others have also felt compelled to leave Dublin. Further, it is no coincidence that Eveline’s neighbors are named the Waters. This deliberate name choice echoes the symbolism of the sea. The fact that the Waters family has gone back to England symbolizes that they are different, they are not from Dublin, and now they are back in an unknown country. Now that the Waters family has left for England, they are just as unknown and distant to Eveline as the sea.

It’s also worth noting that though a third-person narrator is speaking here, they often inhabit Eveline’s thoughts and perspective. This is emblematic of Joyce’s style of “free indirect discourse.”


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The Waters, the Dunns, and the Devines Character Timeline in Eveline

The timeline below shows where the character The Waters, the Dunns, and the Devines appears in Eveline. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Paralysis and Inaction Theme Icon
Escapism and the Exotic Theme Icon
The Many Forms of Death Theme Icon
...are all grown up, and her mother is dead along with her neighbor Tizzie Dunn. The Waters have moved back to England. Eveline sums it up by saying simply “Everything changes” and... (full context)