The Field is a play written by John B. Keane. The play is set in a small village of Southwest Ireland. The main character, Bull McCbe, is a man who transforms a barren rocky piece of land to a fertile field. Years of commitment, hard labor, and dedication enabled him to achieve all these.
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He cultivated this land for a very long time. He even considered owning it. The owner of the plot finally decided to sell it through public auction. To McCbe, this was an opportunity to own the field. Somehow, McCbe succeeded in keeping the town people out of the bid. This disappointed Mick Flanagan, the auctioneer. Much of this was through intimidation.
The arrival of William Dee surprised McCbe. The American was on the mission of acquiring land in order to be accepted as part of the societal member. Together with his son, McCbe set out on a mission to convince the stranger to withdraw his bid. Their encounter ended fatally because the stranger was killed. Subsequently, villagers covered-up the story. McCabe was so concerned with his farming to an extent that he did not care about his family.
The play explores the importance of land to the people of Ireland during the 20th century. This is observed in the beginning of the play when the father claimed that land was what mattered. He advised the son to acquire huge tracts of land before marrying. He even sacrificed his life for land. He advised his son not to marry a woman who did not own land. Though the actions of MacCbe appeared cruel and violent, they should be understood in a positive way.
He was fighting to keep the land because it was a source of livelihood. Moreover, land was important to his children. John Keane uses strong narrative lines that create suspense. In spite of his intimidating character, the villagers still supported him. They beat up the stranger and killed him, but vehemently protected the McCabe family. The villagers did not trust the legal institutions at all. This is seen from the way they addressed the sergeant, the father, and the Bishop.
When Leamy accused McCabe of being a bully, his mother labeled him a weak man who was very different from the rest of men. However, Leamy claimed that the whole village would forget the injustices meted out to innocent people, but his experiences would be remembered forever. This is associated with events that develop later in the play.
The death of the son resulted from his father’s stubbornness. The father did actions that really put the son in a compromising position. Tadgh McCabe was always in agreement with his father’s decision. For instance, they had teamed up with his father at night to formulate the ways through which they could kill the stranger. His father’s stubbornness aimed at stopping anybody from interfering with his interests.
His main interest was acquisition of land. Tadgh and his father McCabe succeeded initially to convince the town people to support them. The truth, however, came out later and contributed greatly to the death of Tadgh. The son died while trying to protect his land from perceived grabbers. This was because of his father’s stubborn teachings. The father informed the priest about the death of the villager, who reported the case to the widow.
What was happening in that village was not in line with the international norms and standards. Technology was everywhere and could not be stopped. The society described in the text was lagging behind culturally because marriage could be sacrificed for land. The son could not subscribe to his father’s ideas. In other words, everything they did involved land, which forced the son to escape with his lover.