* ‘Sive’ is set in Ireland in the middle of the 20th Century. The action of the play takes place in a small farmhouse in a remote part of County Kerry which is home to the Glavin family.
* Poverty is made obvious in the opening stage directions “the kitchen is poorly furnished”
* The relationships between the Glavin family members are strained. The hostility that exists between Mena and her mother-in-law, Nanna, is obvious from the very beginning of the play. The dialogue between these two characters shows the hatred that they feel for each other. Nanna is an old woman who enjoys smoking her pipe by the fire but she cannot even have that little pleasure without Mena complaining “There’s a smell of smoke” Nanna claims it’s from the open fire but Mena replies disrespectfully “Not turf smoke, oul’ woman, tobacco smoke” Nanna can give as good as she gets and tells Mena “’twas a sore day my son took you for a wife” Nanna is able to use the fact that Mena and her husband Mike have no children as a way of insulting her daughter-in-law – She tells Mena “Tis hard enough for a lonely old woman without a child to rock in the cradle” Mena replies viciously “the back of my hand to you for an oul’ hag!”
* There is a very close relationship between Sive and her grandmother Nanna. We see Nanna looking after Sive. She comes into the kitchen to get milk for Sive and when Mena gives out to her for taking the creamy milk from “the top of the tank for her ladyship!” Nanna replies defensively “would you see the girl hungry?” Sive also tries to get her grandmother to tell her about her mother (Nanna’s dead daughter) but Nanna is reluctant to go into the full details of Sive’s birth because she was born illegitimate (her parents were not married). Later, when the greedy Mena is trying to force Sive to marry the old farmer, Séan Dóta, she separates Sive and Nanna by making Sive sleep in a different bedroom “You will sleep with that old woman...