James Joyce – Letter to Eveline’s Father

25 November 1844 Dublin
Dear Father, I have always attended your every need, and I was there whenever you needed me. I worked hard. I worked hard at home, I worked hard at the store and I’ve come to realize; I am not in the bit happy. I am not happy about working this much and I am not happy about what I get for it. Everything is changing, everybody’s going somewhere and I am stuck and my life isn’t going anywhere. I remember how my mother used to be. She used to work hard, very hard.
She sacrificed herself for us father, and I am not her and I can’t be like her here. I will always be her daughter here, not a woman. Daughter of a ghost! I am leaving father, although, with sorrow in my heart, I am leaving. I am running away with Frank. I will be safe, Frank will take care of me. I will be far, very far away. I will have a house and a husband. People will respect me. I will have a life, a life of my own. I’ve made so many sacrifices father: To you, to children, to the store; but I never got anything in exchange.

After all that time, a gentleman who appreciates me comes along and you, father forbade me to see him. I can’t die in this house father, this house already has a ghost. I made a promise to mother before she was gone. I promised her I’d try to keep the home together as long as I can. It hurts me not keeping my promise, but father, do understand me, you have never been easy on me. I am not here to replace mother, it’s not my fault she’s gone, father. Although you weren’t easy on me, it is not your fault that I am leaving, father. It is nobody’s fault.
If I stay nobody can change my life, how can one? You are still my father and I still respect and love you. I wish you well, father.
Farewell. Love, Eveline
25 November 1844 Dublin Dear Harry, With great sorrow in my heart, I bid you and the children farewell. I am going off to South America and I won’t be able to see you again. I will be safe, I am accompanied by frank, and a house that I will be the lady of is waiting for me. I know we weren’t great siblings, but we are siblings. I will miss you Harry, and I will miss the children.
I am leaving to choose a life Harry, to have a life of my own, to be able to live, to be able to be not only a daughter but a wife, but a mother; a respected woman. I cannot live with two tragedies in this house. Ernest, and of course mother… Their memories still haunt me, I still hear my mom screaming “Deveraun Seraun! ” right before… Please don’t think I betrayed my family because if I don’t go I will betray myself. Don’t I have the right to be happy? Don’t I deserve to be happy? I advise you to get a maid for the house. Youngest daughter of Devines, Maria is a nice girl and she wouldn’t ask for too much money.
Tell father to be nice to her though, and you will have to check on him more often than you do. He’s getting old Harry, it’s hard for him. Tell children I love them and I will write to them. Maybe who knows, one day they come to visit me when they are older. Tell them Aunt Eveline had to leave and it is not in the bit their fault. Make sure they eat enough and go to bed on time. The little one’s grades aren’t very good but be kind to him. He just needs more help. My best wishes to you and the children Harry.
Farewell. Love Eveline

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