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In large part, the whole play is about reconciling the relationship of the natural to the supernatural. In the dangerous natural environment of the Aran Islands, where the sea is a constant threat to the fishermen’s lives, the inhabitants must reconcile their real-world lives with their beliefs in the “supernatural.” In the real, natural world, a drowned sailor’s body washes up on shore and is identified by his distinct knitted sweater. In the supernatural world, he is delivered to his family by riding a pale horse, a universal symbol for death. The family, which has already lost members to the sea, sees as inevitable this tragedy, because life itself on the Aran Islands is a battle with natural elements. The term “reconcile” indicates this acknowledgment, and gives the play its poignant tone.
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