Eveline Hill, recalls her childhood, while looking out her window at her father’s Dublin home. She and siblings used to play in a field nearby with neighborhood children.
But now, her mother, brother Ernest, and Tizzie Dunn are deceased. Everyone else has grown up also. The fields where the children played, are now brick houses. The Waters family moved back to England, and the Smith home has not changed. The old photograph of a priest, who had been father’s friend at school, still hangs above the harmonium.
Eveline is just about to leave her childhood home and her job at a retail store, where Miss Gavin always commands her around.
She is moving there for a new a better life. Her father will not threaten her or treat her the way he did her mother there. He used to be kinder her than as he treated Ernest and Harry. Though now, he has been threatening her. Harry spends a lot of time out in the country on his church-decorating business.
The Saturday-night disputes they have are over money. She gives all of her pay, and Harry gives what he can to their father. But he augreus all of it is his “hard eared” cash, so getting money back from him is testing. After a time, he gives in, but he demands her to buy Sunday dinner.
In supplement to her job, she keeps the house and cares for the children in the household.
She hesitation about going to Buenos Aires, Argentina, with Frank. After they met, he nicknamed her Poppens and walked her home from work, so she sees him to be kind. He took her to see The Bohemian Girl, and he would also tell her stories about what he experienced while serving onboard ships of the Allen Line. Her father discovered the courtship and prohibited her from seeing Frank. Then they had to meet in secret.
She has two letters, one to Harry and one to her father. She recollects the times when her father was good company. Recently, when she was “laid up” in bed, he entertained and cared for her. Years before, the family went on a picnic, he wore his wife’s bonnet to make everybody laugh.
Still looking out the window, Eveline hears an Italian organ grinder coming from the street, the song he is playing is the song he played on the night her mother passed. Eveline remembers the promise between herself and her mother. The promise was for her to keep the family together as long as possible. But she believes she has the right to escape with Frank and to be happy.
It is time to leave. Eveline is with Frank, who is holding her hand. Other soldiers are all leaving with their belongings in bags. The ship whistle bellows, calling for its. Eveline asks God to guide her. Should she stay, or should she go?
As Frank starts, he calls for her to come. But Eveline “set her white face to him, passive, like a helpless animal. Her eyes gave him no sign of love or farewell or recognition.”