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Discuss the significance of the title of "Riders to the Sea".

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aparnabarman | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 30, 2012 at 1:45 PM via web

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Discuss the significance of the title of "Riders to the Sea".

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted September 30, 2012 at 4:20 PM (Answer #1)

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The title, actually taken from the Bible, is an extended metaphor meaning “we are all moving toward mortal death"—literally true of the people of the Aran Islands, where this play takes place, who depend on the sea not only for a livelihood, but also as the only connection to the “world” (the mainland).  As each of Maurya’s sons reaches maturity, the economics of the culture draws them to the dangerous sea life.  The knotted sweater bundle (itself a deep symbol) is evidence of the recent loss of one son, and seeing the second son riding a horse along a steep cliff (or his ghost) is another physical manifestation of the sea’s toll on those it “calls” to ride to it.  The sea, besides being the drowning cause of many sailors and fishermen, is also the universal receptacle for our bodies after our souls have left.  An old Irish saying, “The ocean refuses no river”, bears out this metaphor’s meaning as well.

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