Plot of Playboy of Western World

Topics: The Playboy of the Western World, 1907 in Ireland, John Millington Synge Pages: 8 (3299 words) Published: March 29, 2013
Plot Summary.

.......It is an autumn evening along the Irish coast in County Mayo. Shawn Keough stops at Michael James Flaherty’s country pub to visit Flaherty’s daughter, Margaret, called Pegeen Mike by her family and friends. Keough, a fat young fellow devoid of wit or talent, means to marry pretty Pegeen, a spirited colleen of twenty who is minding the tavern in her father’s absence. But she entertains no fancy for Shawn. When he pesters her about the “good bargain” she would have in becoming his wife, she tells him to stop tormenting her while she is doing her job. .......Her father enters with Philly Cullen and Jimmy Farrell. They are on their way to Kate Cassidy’s wake. Flaherty and his friends enjoy wakes, which are among the few lively activities in the Mayo countryside, and they generally stay for the whole night to watch the corpse while imbibing spiritous glee. .......Pegeen is upset about having to tend the pub alone. After all, who knows what evildoer might steal in from the shadows to set upon her. She complains, "It's a queer father'd be leaving me lonesome these twelve hours of dark, and I piling the turf [peat] with the dogs barking, and the calves mooing, and my own teeth rattling with the fear." .......When Flaherty suggests that Keough keep her company, Shawn begs off, saying he would incur the wrath of Father Reilly for staying alone with her the whole night. By and by, a slight young fellow named Christy Mahon stumbles in, tired and dirty, and asks for a glass of porter. When he inquires whether the police frequent the establishment, Michael Flaherty thinks he might be on the run. Flaherty and his friends question Christy. Did he commit larceny? Did he stalk a young girl? Did he fail to pay his rent? Is he a counterfeiter? Does he have three wives? .......Christy, who speaks in a wee voice, says he is the son of a well-to-do farmer and therefore has no need of money. And, says he, he is a decent fellow who would never do wrong to a woman. When Flaherty and the others continue to pump Christy, Pegeen comes to his defense: "You did nothing at all. A soft lad the like of you wouldn't slit the windpipe of a screeching sow." But Christy balks at that observation, as if she had accused him of not being man enough to commit a crime. Then he reveals that he is indeed on the run, for he has killed his father, who was “getting old and crusty, the way I couldn't put up with him at all.” .......Flaherty, intrigued, motions for Pegeen to refill Christy's glass, then asks Christy how he did the deed. Christy says, "I just riz [raised] the loy [club] and let fall the edge of it on the ridge of his skull, and he went down at my feet like an empty sack, and never let a grunt or groan from him at all."

.......After he buried him, he hit the road, walking for eleven days, “facing hog, dog, or divil. . . .” Jimmy Farrell praises him for his bravery, and Pegeen joins in: "It's the truth they're saying, and if I'd that lad in the house, I wouldn't be fearing the . . . cut-throats, or the walking dead." Christy Proud

.......Christy swells with pride, and Flaherty offers him a job in the tavern. Keough objects, but Pegeen silences him. Christy, feeling safe and welcome, decides to stay at least for the night. Jimmy Farrell says, "Now, by the grace of God, herself [Pegeen] will be safe this night, with a man killed his father holding danger from the door, and let you come on, Michael James, or they'll have the best stuff drunk at the wake." .......After Flaherty, Farrell, and Philly Cullen leave, Shawn Keough—jealous—offers to stay with Pegeen, but she pushes him out the door and bolts it. Pegeen now has a brave man, a hero, to protect her, and she and Christy warm to each other, exchanging compliments about their looks and other qualities. .......Meanwhile, the Widow Quin, a woman of about thirty, stops by after hearing from Keough about Pegeen’s visitor. Widow Quin is locally famous for reportedly having murdered her...
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