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I'm not sure whate characters you're sking about here, but we'll use Eveline. She is the perfect example of paralysis.
Eveline does not have a happy homelife; everything stays the same day after day. Her father is abusive, she works hard at work, and she works hard at home....... she promised her mother she's take care of things. Everything is familiar, even if it's not perfect.
Leaving with Frank on the otherhand isn't a sure thing. She is afraid of what she doesn't know because she's never known anything different. Her fear for the future paralyzed her........ she didn't leave because she couldn't move.
i think the effect led the major characters to a paralyzed life is the absence of freedom in many states in the book.Besides,noun of them can take his own decision where they had a great oppression on their daily life and behavior.