Translations

by

Brian Friel

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Maire Chatach Character Analysis

The local milkmaid, Maire is a “strong-minded, strong-bodied” woman in her twenties with curly hair; her surname, in fact, literally means “curly-haired.” She is a student at the hedge school and is initially betrothed to Manus. However, she grows frustrated with his refusal to apply for a job at the new national school—or to do seemingly anything to improve his station in life. The forward-thinking Maire insists that the hedge school will go out of business when the national school opens. She also wants to learn English, which she believes is far more useful than Greek or Latin and will help her when she moves to America to seek opportunities she cannot find in Ireland. Despite knowing only three words of English, Maire falls in love with a British soldier named Yolland. The two kiss after a local dance, setting in motion the chain of events that leads Manus to flee Baile Beag. Maire is utterly distraught after Yolland’s disappearance, insisting he would not simply leave her.

Maire Chatach Quotes in Translations

The Translations quotes below are all either spoken by Maire Chatach or refer to Maire Chatach. 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:
All Translation Is Interpretation Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Farrar, Straus and Giroux edition of Translations published in 1995.
Act 1 Quotes

Maire: That's the height of my Latin. Fit me better if I had even that much English.

Jimmy: English? I thought you had some English?

Maire: Three words. Wait — there was a spake I used to have off by heart. What's this it was?

Her accent is strange because she is speaking a foreign language and because she does not understand what she is saying.

“In Norfolk we besport ourselves around the maypoll.” What about that!

Related Characters: Jimmy Jack Cassie (speaker), Maire Chatach (speaker)
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

Maire: I'm talking about the Liberator, Master, as you well know. And what he said was this: “The old language is a barrier to modern progress.” He said that last month. And he's right. I don’t want Greek. I don't want Latin. I want English.

Manus reappears on the platform above.

I want to be able to speak English because I'm going to America as soon as the harvest's all saved.

Related Characters: Maire Chatach (speaker), Manus, Hugh
Page Number: 24-25
Explanation and Analysis:

Maire: You talk to me about getting married — with neither a roof over your head nor a sod of ground under your foot. I suggest you go for the new school; but no - 'My father’s in for that.' Well now he's got it and now this is finished and now you've nothing.

Manus: I can always ...

Maire: What? Teach classics to the cows? Agh —

Related Characters: Manus (speaker), Maire Chatach (speaker), Hugh
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2, Scene 2 Quotes

Maire: Don't stop - I know what you're saying.

Yolland: I would tell you how I want to be here - to live here - always - with you - always, always.

Maire: 'Always'? What is that word - 'always'?

[…]

Maire: Shhh - listen to me. I want you, too, soldier.

Yolland: Don't stop - I know what you're saying.

Maire: I want to live with you - anywhere - anywhere at all-always-always.

Yolland: 'Always'? What is that word -'always'?

Related Characters: Maire Chatach (speaker), Lieutenant Yolland (speaker)
Page Number: 67
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 3 Quotes

Manus: (again close to tears) But when I saw him standing there at the side of the road - smiling - and her face buried in his shoulder - I couldn't even go close to them. I just shouted something stupid - something like, 'You're a bastard, Yolland.' If I'd even said it in English... 'cos he kept saying 'Sorry-sorry?' The wrong gesture in the wrong language.

Related Characters: Manus (speaker), Maire Chatach, Lieutenant Yolland
Page Number: 70
Explanation and Analysis:
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Translations PDF

Maire Chatach Character Timeline in Translations

The timeline below shows where the character Maire Chatach appears in Translations. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
All Translation Is Interpretation Theme Icon
The Limits of Language Theme Icon
A “strong-minded, strong-bodied” woman in her twenties named Maire enters. Manus feels awkward that she saw him kissing Sarah and he comments on having... (full context)
All Translation Is Interpretation Theme Icon
Colonialism and Cultural Imperialism Theme Icon
Manus apologizes for not seeing Maire the previous night, saying he had been called upon to write a letter for a... (full context)
Colonialism and Cultural Imperialism Theme Icon
Manus walks around the school room to check in with each student. Upon reaching Maire, she says that the “passage money” came the previous night. She then tells Manus he... (full context)
Language, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Colonialism and Cultural Imperialism Theme Icon
Bridget off-handedly mentions soldiers making maps while talking about the “sweet smell,” indicating crop rot. Maire grows annoyed, asserting that the potatoes have never failed in Baile Beag. Talk returns to... (full context)
All Translation Is Interpretation Theme Icon
Language, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Colonialism and Cultural Imperialism Theme Icon
...the Latin and Greek etymological origins of certain words and phrases, such as “caerimonia nominationis”—which Maire correctly responds means “the ritual of naming.” Hugh also asks where the Donnelly twins are;... (full context)
All Translation Is Interpretation Theme Icon
Language, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Colonialism and Cultural Imperialism Theme Icon
...a cup of tea and then address the class. He says that on his “perambulations”—which Maire responds means his walk—he met Captain Lancey of the Royal Engineers. Lancey, who is in... (full context)
Language, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Colonialism and Cultural Imperialism Theme Icon
As Hugh quizzes Bridget on Latin conjugations, Maire gets to her feet and asserts they should all be learning English. She says that... (full context)
Language, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Colonialism and Cultural Imperialism Theme Icon
Hugh has everyone frantically tidy the room. Manus approaches Maire and remarks that she should have told him she was definitely leaving Ireland. Maire responds... (full context)
All Translation Is Interpretation Theme Icon
Language, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Colonialism and Cultural Imperialism Theme Icon
...palatable to the Irish locals. Owen asks if the group wants to hear Yolland speak; Maire asks if Yolland has anything to say, which Owen translates to Yolland as “she’s dying... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
All Translation Is Interpretation Theme Icon
Language, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Colonialism and Cultural Imperialism Theme Icon
...about a house above their camping spot. Owen responds that it is the house of Maire Chatach, and that “Chatach” means “curly-haired.” Yolland says he often hears music coming from the... (full context)
All Translation Is Interpretation Theme Icon
The Limits of Language Theme Icon
Maire arrives with a milk delivery. Manus tells her the news and attempts to thank her... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
The Limits of Language Theme Icon
...make clear that down front is “a vaguely ‘outside’ area.” Music continues to play as Maire and Yolland run in laughing and holding hands, having just left the dance. They “talk,”... (full context)
The Limits of Language Theme Icon
Latin proves useless, so Maire repeats the three English words she knows: fire, water, Earth. Yolland grows excited to hear... (full context)
The Limits of Language Theme Icon
Maire moves away from Yolland, who begins to recite all the Irish names he has learned... (full context)
Act 3
All Translation Is Interpretation Theme Icon
Language, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
The Limits of Language Theme Icon
Colonialism and Cultural Imperialism Theme Icon
...his hand when he saw Yolland standing on the side of the road smiling with Maire. At that moment he lost the will to get close to the couple and instead... (full context)
All Translation Is Interpretation Theme Icon
The Limits of Language Theme Icon
...and leaves Owen detailed instructions for helping Hugh get by without him. Owen asks about Maire and offers Manus money, but Manus ignores both gestures. Before leaving, Manus addresses Sarah but... (full context)
Colonialism and Cultural Imperialism Theme Icon
Owen asks Bridget and Doalty if they saw Yolland and Maire leave the dance together. They confirm that they did, but that they did not see... (full context)
All Translation Is Interpretation Theme Icon
The Limits of Language Theme Icon
Maire enters carrying her milk can, clearly in distress. She asks if Owen has heard anything.... (full context)
Language, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
The Limits of Language Theme Icon
Colonialism and Cultural Imperialism Theme Icon
Maire insists Yolland would not just leave, and as such that something must have happened to... (full context)
The Limits of Language Theme Icon
Maire enters, saying she left but couldn’t remember where she was going. Hugh says he will... (full context)
All Translation Is Interpretation Theme Icon
The Limits of Language Theme Icon
Maire asks Hugh what the English word “always” means. Hugh translates it from Greek and Latin,... (full context)
All Translation Is Interpretation Theme Icon
Language, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Colonialism and Cultural Imperialism Theme Icon
Jimmy has awoken and sits beside Maire. He explains that in Greek “endogamein” means “to marry within the tribe,” while exogamein means... (full context)