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Siren Song

Siren Song

by Margaret Atwood

The Song

Symbol Analysis

We may get sick of hearing all about "the song," since it's all the speaker talks about from the very beginning. We're waiting to hear what this song is all about, since she keeps hyping it up so much. But while waiting, we fail to realize that we've been hearing the song all along, and that's why we end up dead like all the rest of those sailors. Oops.

  • Lines 3-6: Men are leaping "overboard in squadrons" because the song's so good, even though they're leaping right into an island of "beached skulls." So at this point we know that we're dealing with some dangerous stuff, but we're so curious to hear the song for ourselves that we don't really care about the danger.
  • Lines 7-9: To top things off, no one has ever heard the song and those that have are dead. So we're even more curious at this point, which is emphasized by the speaker's anaphora in repeating "the song." It doesn't even get a proper name, which makes it more elusive. 
  • Lines 22-24: Then we find out that the song is really a "cry for help." And after all the flattery, we believe the speaker when she tells us this. Maybe the song is also a symbol here for the assumptions we often have regarding women and their vulnerability. 
  • Lines 25-27: Why is the song boring? Because it gleans the same results: duped folks like us who fall right into the trap because we think we're different and "unique." Meanwhile, our speaker has been singing the same song to everyone and saying they're unique too. Maybe the boring song is also indicative of the flat two-dimensional representations of women and femininity in literature. Check out our "Themes: Women and Femininity" section for more about that.
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