Nora is more sympathetic to her mother while Cathleen directly challenges her mother to be more positive, to stop her relentless, gloomy negativity. However, at first, both daughters attempt to keep the evidence (clothes) of Michael's death from their mother, Maurya, so that she might not lament. Eventually, Cathleen hands Maurya the clothes confirming Michael's death. Cathleen is certainly more direct with her mother. Nora, being the younger daughter, is a bit more passive. Maurya does seem to feel closer to Nora and this is illustrated by the fact that Maurya, at times, addresses Nora directly; she never addresses Cathleen. Nora also plays the role of a kind of commentator by giving background information as the play develops. For example, when men, offstage, are carrying in Bartley, Nora provides the description:
They're carrying a thing among them and there's water dripping out of it and leaving a track by the big stones.
Nora does this a few times; including the words the priest has said about Michael and that he would not stop Bartley from going out.