Symbolism

There are moments and objects in the play that we can consider in a symbolic light. At the end of Act I, we see John, after his argument with Jenny, looking out into the night smoking a fag-end.

We can look on this as representative of his faltering relationship with his daughter. He is staring into darkness metaphorically as he tries to understand her. Smoking the fag-end could symbolise the fact that he is trying to resuscitate a connection with Jenny that is no longer there. It could also portray his fading motivation, waiting for so long without employment.

In addition, Jenny arrives at the end of the play like the fairy wi a magic wand from the top of the Christmas tree that they have all been praying for. Christmas itself, the setting at the end of the play, is a time of hope and redemption.

The red hat

In Act III, John buys Maggie a red hat for Christmas and she is thrilled with it. This hat reminds Maggie of her coortin days because she used to wear a red hat when she went out with John. Therefore, it comes to represent her youth and the best days before she became John’s wife.

It is also significant that Granny, Lily and the neighbours disapprove of it. Granny says its nae a colour for an aul wife. Lily damns it with faint praise - Oh. Quite nice. Maggie, however, likes it and wears it to go out with Lily.

We could argue that its very unconventionality is its significance. It can be linked with Maggie’s growing strength and spirit as well as with the same promiscuous behaviour that we saw in Jenny.

Maggie wears it regardless of etiquette and tradition, in the same way that she defies convention at the end of the play.