Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Maurya (MOY-ruh), an old peasant woman living on one of the Aran Islands at the mouth of Galway Bay on the western coast of Ireland, a wild, desolate, impoverished area. She has reared six sons, four of whom are known to be dead, as are her husband and her husband’s father—all from the ravages of the sea, whose fierce tides and winds make life difficult and dangerous. She is afraid that Michael, the next from youngest son, who has been absent unexpectedly for some time, is drowned also, and she tries to dissuade her last son, Bartley, from crossing over the tumultuous sea to sell two horses at the fair on the mainland. Twice unable to give him a journey’s blessing, she has a vision foretelling his death. When her two daughters, after identifying as Michael’s some clothes found on a drowned body, inform her of Michael’s death, she recites the list of the others’ deaths and the circumstances. As she is being persuaded that he is dead, villagers enter to announce the death of her last son, Bartley, who was knocked into the sea by his pony. Instead of becoming bitter and angry, Maurya recognizes that the sea can do no more to harm her, because she has lost all her men. There is an end to anxiety and a beginning of peace for her, though there will be little to eat. She realizes that she will not long survive these deaths. Maurya’s nobility and maturity of spirit enable her to see the good in all of her men now being together....
(The entire section is 609 words.)
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