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The Cremation of Sam McGee

The Cremation of Sam McGee

by Robert Service

The Corpse

Symbol Analysis

We spend a little bit of time with Sam McGee while he’s alive, but even more with his frozen corpse. The grinning, frozen body is a creepy, awful companion for the speaker, but he can’t get rid of it, because of the promise that he made to Sam. Finally, Sam gets thawed out, and the corpse comes back to life. Not what you’d expect, but kind of a nice surprise.

  • Line 28: This is a big transformation – the moment that Sam is changed into a corpse. It’s the beginning of the speaker’s serious troubles, too.
  • Lines 31-2: Pretty much from the beginning, the corpse seems like bad news. It torments the speaker, and he even starts to imagine that the corpse is talking to him.
  • Line 40: This is the creepiest corpse moment in the whole poem, as far as we’re concerned. It’s such a gross, weird image of that smiling corpse, which our increasingly crazy speaker believes can actually hear him singing. Why he’s singing to a dead body, we’re not exactly sure.

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