There are different kinds of conflicts in the play Riders to the Sea. The first is between free will and fate—in other words, can people control fate, or does it control them? Maurya, the matron of the family, tries to prevent her sons from being swallowed up by the sea, but to no avail. Another conflict involves the battle between people and nature. In the play, the sea, representative of nature, is all powerful, and humans are helpless in its clutches. In addition, there is a conflict in the play between religion and nature. The priest in the play promises that Maurya will not be left without any sons, as she fears that her last remaining sons will be drowned. However, Maurya's sons are ultimately lost, showing that the church is powerless in the face of nature.