The story is divided into, not the obvious two (obvious by marker of a printer's dividing line in my copy), but three sections. The division between one and two is less superficially obvious--more a tonal division between act one and act two, if "acts" there may be in so short a story. The dividing "line" here, I believe is the long descriptive paragraph for Frank. Pre-Frank, the prose is markedly negative; the contrary, of course, is the case post-Frank.
Act I, samples of the negative: the evening invades; she was tired; dead, dead, dead; the more distant from the present, the more ideal; the brown and yellow, as opposed to the new and, by contrast, more ideal red; Miss Gavan; the arguments and abuses of her father. The transition into something less negative is that very last sentence leading into Frank, and Act II:
"It was hard work--a hard life--but now that she was about to leave it she did not find it a wholly undesirable life." (Nice cadence here, by the way.) Earlier, Joyce says, or has the girl think, "Everything changes."
The implications of these two sentences speak for the entire story--conflict, character, setting, everything. The girl has before her a drastic change, and a change for the unknown. The unknown is a typically scary place, and the known, often regardless of however miserable, is pretty much always preferable to the unknown, at least inasmuch as, again, the unknown is scary (and those naysayers who claim that the unknown--adventure--is not scary but exciting, well, if it were not scary it could in no wise create the adrenaline that verily lends the sensation of excitement in the first place; adrenaline junkies just like to get scared), and it is this that holds the intrigue. Eveline is torn between, on one hand, staying where she is, despite its monotony, is discomfort, and its potential danger (her father's abuses, particularly as she increasingly gains similarity to her mother), and, on the other hand, embarking (literally) for the greener side across the sea.
Act II, examples of the positive: the white envelopes, indicating how she at least wants to feel for the coming adventure; "but she liked Harry too"; the distinct and abiding good of her father; the new connotation of the "odour of [the] dusty cretonne"; but we quickly slide back to the negative as memory of that good in father leads to his defense of his wife against the "damned Italians." Eveline is stifled by recalled death and stands in eager/anxious anticipation of her escape. ("Dereraun Seraun" is most likely--I had to look this up--invented by Joyce; however, the wide variety of implied "definitions" offer pretty idea for what he might have intended.)
Of course, she doesn't escape. Wracked with fear, she opts for the grayish-brown constance of Dublin over the green adventure of Buenos Ayres (sic).
The theme of the story, I believe, is not change, but a derivative thereof: "the more things change the more they stay the same." Cliche', sure, but in wording only, not application, and that simple, apparently oxymoronic sentence applies across the entire span of the story, much like the two sentences from before. Nearly every line of the story holds indicator of something having changed, changing, or awaiting change. In the end, however, and despite all this change all over the place, really, nothing changes: Eveline stays right where she is, and, interestingly, the things that drive her to seek change in the first place are, tit-for-tat, the very things she can't bear to leave behind.
There are two other items that I want to point out (not the only potentially point-worthy, as there are many (though these others are generally indicative of trends and referents we've already dissected at length), but, I think--forgive me--the point-worthiest), one of foreshadowing, the second of contextualizing; both, however, are perhaps zoomed-in a little too far:
- "Damned Italians" -- aside from the irony of racial abuse here (Joyce lived in Italy for most of his life--though this could be scorn from the one-eyed man in the form of mockery toward an assumed bigotry of his countrymen), I think the words from Eveline's father and where/how (from within the happy-ish Act II) they're written/remembered indicate a prejudice against if not travel then foreigners in general. If she possesses any of the same bigotry of her father, then her fear of this adventure heightens;
- "Eveline! Evvy!" -- maybe I'm slow (likely), but I didn't notice until now the girl's similarity of name to Eve of Old Testament fame. Hmm. Is Joyce saying that if Eve had not been pushed out by God for her transgression.... No. He's saying that Eveline is perhaps missing out on the knowledge and experience that simply cannot be had from within her little, well, garden, no matter how dark and dreary. And maybe all of Dublin is an Eveline, not an Eve. Perhaps Joyce sees himself as, by contrast and in context, a masculine incarnation (not an Adam, however) of the more laudable of the two women. I expect he would see Eden as a prison; also he, in no way, sees himself as a holy or righteous man; so Eve, indeed, is the better woman, and Dublin is a, Eveline: a cowardly failure.
As I said at the beginning, I really see this as the first of the stories thus far to have some spark of life. Despite the gray tragedy of it, it is a tragedy! Whatever the other stories were, they were not tragedies, as--for me--a story for whose characters I care not can never come across as tragic. This poor girl, Eveline! What a hand she get dealt! I wonder, and perhaps this is the most salient question: is it her fault?