Riders to the Sea main character Maurya, an old peasant woman, standing on the coast

Riders to the Sea

by J. M. Synge
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Why is Bartley determined to go to Connemara?

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Despite his mother, Maurya's, desperate pleadings, Bartley insists on going to the horse fair in Connemara. Maurya has already lost her husband, father-in-law, and five sons to the sea; Bartley is all she has left, and so understandably, she doesn't want to lose him too. But Bartley is not to be dissuaded. Though he knows that the sea journey is likely to be fraught with danger, he still goes ahead with it anyway.

Why? Because Bartley thinks that he'll get a good price for his horses at the Connemara fair. He has to sell them in order to earn some much-needed cash. As the next horse fair won't be for another fortnight, the time is now; he has no choice but to go. Once again, we can see that, in this part of the world, people are at the mercy of forces beyond their control, whether it's the power of nature or the necessity of making a living.

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