In The Playboy of the Western World, young Christy Mahon has decided that he is sick and tired of being under his father's thumb. He is through being controlled by his father. He has had enough of his father's insults. He is appalled that his father is now trying to force him to marry a wealthy old lady. Christy reaches his limit one day, and in the heat of an argument with his father, Christy hits Old Mahon over the head. The man falls at Christy's feet, and Christy assumes the blow has killed him. He flees his home and ends up at an inn on the coast of Mayo.
Here Christy's bravado kicks in, and he wows the crowd with his tale, exaggerating it a bit more with every telling. Christy finds himself the center of attention, even a hero, and he soon discovers that the ladies quite admire him, too. Dame Quin, an older widow, is taken with the young Christy, but Christy has eyes for the innkeeper's daughter, Pegeen.
Christy is having the time of his life until his father shows up. Christy's blow has not killed him after all, only stunned him. Christy, though, does not want to go home. He is having too much fun, and he argues with his father again, even striking him again. This time Old Mahon really does seem to be dead, and the villagers are not so forgiving of this “murder” before their very eyes. They attempt to hang Christy. The tough Old Mahon saves his son just in time, and the two start for home arm in arm with Christy finally earning his father's respect.