Dust represents monotony. The dust in the house keeps collecting no matter how frequently Eveline cleans it, paralleling the monotony of Eveline’s life in Dublin: she is constantly taking care of people or cleaning, only to wake up and do the same thing the next day. The children will always grow hungry again just as the dust will always collect again.
In the opening lines, Eveline breathes in the scent of “dusty cretonne” and notices that she is tired. The dust is a reminder of her endless daily tasks, which seem empty of meaning. Dust also represents death, or the cyclicality of life. It calls to mind the Biblical phrase “from dust to dust,” which implies that dust is simply the absence of existence, either pre- or post- life. At one point Eveline wonders “where on earth all the dust came from,” not because she is genuinely curious but because she is fed up with the senseless repetition of her housework.
Dust Quotes in Eveline
Home! She looked round the room, reviewing all its familiar objects which she had dusted once a week for so many years, wondering where on earth all the dust came from. Perhaps she would never see again those familiar objects from which she had never dreamed of being divided.
Her time was running out but she continued to sit by the window, leaning her head against the window curtain, inhaling the odour of dusty cretonne. Down far in the avenue she could hear a street organ playing. She knew the air. Strange that it should come that very night to remind her of the promise to her mother, her promise to keep the home together as long as she could.