The stories of “An Encounter” and “Eveline” share a common theme. In both stories the characters have a desire to escape their routine lives. The boys in the story of An Encounter desire a break from the normalcy of school. They choose to play truancy and walk through the streets of Dublin. While here, they encounter an old man who starts telling them stories. The old man constantly repeats the same things and the phrases he uses. His stories make the boys uncomfortable and they decide to leave him. In Eveline, Eveline longs to escape from home and start a new life elsewhere with her lover. She lives with her father who is mean and abusive and her brother does not live at home. She finally makes the decision to go with Frank and even meets him at the docks. Despite taking the first step of leaving her home, she cannot escape routine. She hesitates making the decision and instead chooses to pray about it. Eventually, Frank leaves and she is left standing at the docks.
The desire to escape is significant in both stories. The characters in the story desire to see the world in a different angle. They seem genuine in their desire, yet something holds them back. In the case of Eveline, she wants to escape from her abusive father and she does not want to lead the same kind of life that her mother lived. However, her desire is not strong enough. She is not sure of what the new life will bring and she is held back by the daily routine and her familiar life. In An Encounter, the narrator and his two friends want to know the life outside their school. Leo fails to show up and the narrator and Mahoney decide to proceed. Their encounter with the old man provides them with an opportunity to learn more about life outside school. They do not seize the opportunity and the stories that the old man narrates makes them feel uncomfortable. Mahoney finds a way to escape when he is chasing a stray cat. They finally leave the old man and they realize that what they were hoping for is not what they got.
The theme in both stories relates well with other stories in the Dubliners. In “Little Cloud”, Little Chandler longs to write poetry and have an exciting life. He is fascinated by Gallher’s life of adventure and the fact that he works in a busy press office in London. He also wonders what it would feel like to travel to foreign cities and have more women in his life. He does not get a chance to find out since, as he sees it, there is nothing he can do about it. He is too afraid to take the first step. His life, like that of others in the two stories, is held back by familiarity and routine. In addition to this, he seems intimidated by his wife and sees her as cold and unfeeling. He also feels ashamed when he thinks about the life he would lead living in a place like Paris, a city he considers immoral.
The same theme is noted in “The Boarding House”. Mr. Doran wants to escape marrying Polly, the daughter of Mrs. Mooney. He wants to maintain his freedom and respect. Polly does not belong to his social class and her mannerisms do not impress Mr. Doran. Mrs. Mooney is a persuasive woman and he tries to convince him to marry her daughter. Mr. Doran wants to escape the situation but he seems trapped. Escaping town means that he will ruin his reputation and this will negatively impact his life. Moreover, he will have to face the wrath of Polly’s family, and retribution from his priest and his employer. His desire to escape does not materialize since no one supports him.
Although the stories were written years ago, they are still relevant today. Many people are caught up in situations where they long to escape. The situations are such that their lives have become a routine and they want to escape and experience a new life elsewhere. This is the case of Eveline, Little Chandler and the boys in An Adventure. They may also want to escape the sad and miserable life that they are facing. This is the case of Mr. Doran who is entangled in a miserable relationship. As the stories show, taking the first step is not enough. Having a strong will and enduring till the end is what counts.