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This essay focuses on motif of a life change at the short stories Eveline by James Joyce and Something Childish But Very Natural by Katherine Mansfield. Both the main female characters of the stories, Eveline and Edna, have the opportunity to change their current lives they are not satisfied with, but at the end of the short stories they decide not to.
At the first short story, we meet Eveline. She is nineteen years old and she is thinking about her current life. Her life seems to be empty and miserable. She takes care about her family, which is sometimes very tedious for her. She does not like her job at the Stores, her superior Miss Gavan degrades her in front of other people. She gives all the money she earns to her family. She is also afraid of his father, who is behaving violently and treats her very badly. Similarly, the main female character of the second short story, Edna, is not satisfied with her life either, even though she is only sixteen years old. She is at the college, training to be a secretary, but she does not seem to be happy about that. She makes it clear that she hates her life from the beginning of the story. Edna mentions her bad life at the first conversation with her future partner Henry. While Henry is talking about how beautiful thing life is, she answers: "I don't think so. But then I've been a fatalist for a long time now, months." (Mansfield 611). This shows that she feels sad about her life. Edna also compares herself to her mother who is not happy about her life either.
Both characters have a chance to change their life, though. Eveline has met Frank and they have become lovers. Frank is very kind to her and she feels good when she is with him. He offers her new home at Buenos Ayres, where they could live together. It would be the best change of her life. She likes the idea of new home, where nobody would know her and people would treat her better there than at her current home. As well as Eveline, Edna has found new love, too. She has met Henry and they have fallen in love with each other. Henry loves her from the first moment he has seen her on the train. She is spending most of the time with him. They are happy and they imagine living together at new home. They discover an old abandoned house and Henry wishes they could live there but it is not possible because they do not have enough money. Some time later, when they are having tea at Henry's favorite cottage, the woman who serves them offers them her cottage which is for sale. Henry knows that this is an opportunity for them. He offers Edna to live with him at the cottage. It would be a great change for both of them.
Even though both characters have the opportunity which can change their contemporary lives, at the end of the short stories they are not able to do it. Eveline decides at the last moment not to go with Frank on the boat to Buenos Ayres. The main reason why she does not go with her lover is the promise that she gave her mother when she was dying. She promised her that she will keep the home together. When Eveline is thinking about leaving her home, she also realizes that her father could be very nice sometimes and he will miss her (Joyce 24). The reader can see Eveline's worries from the very beginning of the story, when she is looking out of the window and musing on leaving her home (Luft 50). Also Edna is at the same situation. Henry is waiting for her at the cottage but Edna does not come. But her reasons were probably different in comparison with the Eveline's. She is not afraid of leaving of her contemporary life, but she worries about a way of her new life. Her biggest problem is that she is afraid of any physical contact with Henry. Every time he tries to touch her, she pushes him aside. She explains him that if she let him to touch her or kiss her, she would not feel like a child anymore. Henry comprehends it, but he seems to be kind of disappointed. Even though she grows up during the story and seems to be ready to physical contact with Henry (Dowling 45), she does not come to his cottage at the end of the story. The reasons why she did not come are not really obvious, but the reader can guess that it was this aspect that frightened her.
The female characters of the short stories, Eveline and Edna, have both a chance to make their lives better. They found the true love and are ready to leave their current lives, but when they finally stands in a front of their change, they change their minds and back away. It is clear that if they did go to live with their lovers, their situation would be better and they will be happier, but the reasons for their attitude are understandable. For Eveline is not easy to leave her father who would miss her and she does not want to break the promise she gave her mother. Edna's situation is difficult, too. She loves Henry but she is afraid of any physical contact with him. In spite of the fact that leaving would be their best choice, the readers can understand their decision.