The sea is both a source of life and death. As we can see in the poem, the sea offers food, a way to the mainland and other life giving essentials. It is also the reason that Mauyra has lost all the men in her family.
At the beginning of the story we realize that Mauyra’s Daughters Colleen and Nora are trying to hide some clothing that the young priest has given them, thinking they belonged to one of their bothers Michael We learn this through the conversation between the two daughters as the mother (Mauyra) is asleep. The style of the language is that of poor Irishmen during that time. The setting of the story tells of the hard work these people do to survive. You can tell that they live off the land and sea. The scene is set in a cottage kitchen with one girl sitting a spin wheel, having just finished kneading a cake. They use cut turf for fuel. The cash is gained only by the sale of a pig or a horse. The setting makes the characters seem that much more believable. It is difficult for us in modern time to grasp the loss of all of our children to one enemy (especially a natural one.) We can believe this is possible during a harder time of life.
The youngest son is bound to take a horse across the sea to the mainland to sell it while the ships are still in the harbor. He is the only living son remaining. You can see that he will not be deterred from his mission because he is young and unafraid of anything. The mother has asked him not to go, she still prays for his safe return as she knows he is young and not thinking of the danger. She knows that he will go no matter what she says. The language used is Gaelic. I found this to be very realistic to the time period and the people of the time. It flows easily off the tongue and lets you believe that you too are of that time.By using Gaelic, we get the feeling of poor Irishmen. It also helps us understand the religious aspect of the play. It seems that Mauyra does not put a lot of credit to the young priest. It is not because he is a priest as much as that he is young. She feels that the young are more impetuous that the elderly are and they will take more chances than Mauyra is comfortable with. Religion is also important to the story.
We know that they are Catholic (ie: priest) but we can see that this is simply an accepted way of life and not a focal centerpiece. Religion is a given. The relationship of the two sisters is very realistic. They seem to be able to accept the fact that the sea will take their last brother eventually and that he will not listen to them when they try to warn him of the danger. They are also of the same mind when they are talking about their mother. They seem to want to protect her but at the same time realize that they cannot. It is noticeable that the daughters have accepted their bothers fate before they are even sure of it. The end is foreshadowed by the girls conversation that the priest will not stop the boy from leaving and the mother believes that the priest will. At this point we know that the sea will indeed take her last surviving son. The most important scene in the story is where Mauyra realizes that her last son is dead and that the sea no longer holds any threat for her. That there is nothing else the sea can take from her so she can now live without fear. The sea is in effect, the winner. She has been able to take all Mauyra’s sons yet will still be a critical part of Mauyra’s way of life. Mauyra cannot live without the sea even after all that she has lost to it. In the end, there is acceptance.
Retrieved on December 17, 2012 from http://mockingbird.creighton.edu/english/micsun/IrishResources/riders.htm Retrieved on December 16, 2012 from https://content.ashford.edu/books/AUENG125.10.2/sections/h13.1 Retrieved on December 17, 2012 from http://voices.yahoo.com/summary-play-riders-sea-john-millington-6320432.html?cat=38