Maurya, the mother in Riders to the Sea, has already lost all but one of her sons and her husband to the sea. They have all drowned, as has her father-in-law. After her son Michael drowns in the sea, she wants desperately to save her one remaining son, Bartley, and she says to him, "What is the price of a thousand horses against a son where there is one son only?" Bartley wants to sail off to sell horses, but Maurya cares more about preserving her son's life than she does about the money he might make from the sale of his horses.
Maurya fights bravely to prevent her son from sailing, but when he decides to go against her wishes, she is fatalistic and accepting. She says to her daughters, "He's gone now, and when the black night is falling I'll have no son left me in the world." She accepts that fate and the force of the sea are more powerful than she is, and she has a certain fatalism about her destiny. She knows in the end that she can't stop the forces that are against her.