Riders to the Sea

Bartley Character Analysis

Bartley is Maurya’s last surviving son, and the only man remaining in the household. He is determined to go out on the sea to provide for his family, despite the grief he feels after the likely death of his brother Michael. Maurya’s relentlessly urging him to stay home, and the clear risk to his own life of going out to sea in a storm. He dies when he is thrown from his horse into the sea, directly after Maurya sees a vision of Michael’s ghost riding behind him.

Bartley Quotes in Riders to the Sea

The Riders to the Sea quotes below are all either spoken by Bartley or refer to Bartley. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Spirituality and Mourning Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Publications edition of Riders to the Sea published in 1993.
Act 1 Quotes

“I won’t stop him,” says he, “but let you not be afraid. Herself does be saying prayers half through the night, and the Almighty God won’t leave her destitute,” says he, “with no son living.”

Related Characters: Nora (speaker), Maurya, Bartley, The Young Priest
Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:

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If it was a hundred horses, or a thousand horses you had itself, what is the price of a thousand horses against a son where there is one son only?

Related Characters: Maurya (speaker), Bartley, Michael
Related Symbols: Bartley’s Horses
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

It’s the life of a young man to be going on the sea, and who would listen to an old woman with one thing and she saying it over?

Related Characters: Cathleen (speaker), Maurya, Bartley
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

He went by quickly; and “the blessing of God on you,” says he, and I could say nothing. I looked up then, and I crying, at the gray pony, and there was Michael upon it—with fine clothes on him, and new shoes on his feet.

Related Characters: Maurya (speaker), Bartley, Michael
Related Symbols: Bartley’s Horses
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

It isn’t that I haven’t prayed for you, Bartley, to the Almighty God. It isn’t that I haven’t said prayers in the dark night till you wouldn’t know what I’d be saying; but it’s a great rest I’ll have now, and it’s time surely.

Related Characters: Maurya (speaker), Bartley
Page Number: 70
Explanation and Analysis:

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Michael has a clean burial in the far north, by the grace of the Almighty God. Bartley will have a fine coffin out of the white boards, and a deep grave surely. What more can we want than that? No man at all can be living for ever, and we must be satisfied.

Related Characters: Maurya (speaker), Bartley, Michael
Related Symbols: The White Boards
Page Number: 71
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Bartley Character Timeline in Riders to the Sea

The timeline below shows where the character Bartley appears in Riders to the Sea. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Spirituality and Mourning Theme Icon
Fate and Mortality Theme Icon
The Power of the Sea Theme Icon
...blows open the door, spurring Cathleen to ask Nora if the young priest would stop Bartley, their last living brother, from going on the sea in such a storm. However, the... (full context)
Fate and Mortality Theme Icon
The Power of the Sea Theme Icon
...turf-loft and throws turf down to feed the oven, in which bread is baking for Bartley’s journey. Upon entering, Maurya declares that Bartley will not go on the sea in such... (full context)
Fate and Mortality Theme Icon
The Power of the Sea Theme Icon
A sad, quiet Bartley enters and quickly asks for the rope, which Cathleen had hung up to prevent the... (full context)
Fate and Mortality Theme Icon
Age and Gender Theme Icon
As Bartley uses the rope to make a halter for his horse, he instructs Cathleen on taking... (full context)
Spirituality and Mourning Theme Icon
Age and Gender Theme Icon
...will have no son left her by nightfall, and Cathleen rebukes her for not giving Bartley a blessing and “sending him out with an unlucky word behind him.” Realizing that they... (full context)
Fate and Mortality Theme Icon
Age and Gender Theme Icon
The Power of the Sea Theme Icon
With Maurya gone after Bartley, Cathleen and Nora have their chance to look through the bundle. Cutting through the knots,... (full context)
Spirituality and Mourning Theme Icon
Age and Gender Theme Icon
The Power of the Sea Theme Icon
...and decides that they will not tell her about the proof of Michael’s death until Bartley returns from his voyage. The girls busy themselves, and Maurya comes in slowly, still carrying... (full context)
Spirituality and Mourning Theme Icon
Fate and Mortality Theme Icon
Maurya tells her daughters that as she tried to say “God speed you” to Bartley, the words choked in her throat. She then saw Michael in fine clothes and shoes... (full context)
Spirituality and Mourning Theme Icon
Fate and Mortality Theme Icon
The Power of the Sea Theme Icon
However, it is in fact Bartley who has died. More townspeople enter the cottage, and Bartley’s body is carried in on... (full context)
Spirituality and Mourning Theme Icon
Fate and Mortality Theme Icon
Age and Gender Theme Icon
The Power of the Sea Theme Icon
The women who have gathered in the cottage begin to keen. As she anoints Bartley with Holy Water, Maurya speaks aloud to herself of how “there isn’t anything more the... (full context)