For my class essay, I'm going to write about the roles that sex plays in the poems "Siren Song" and "Rite of Passage". Both poems find common ground in that they are told from the perspective of a female narrator



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For my class essay, I'm going to write about the roles that sex plays in the poems “Siren Song” and “Rite of Passage”. Both poems find common ground in that they are told from the perspective of a female narrator. While both are expressed in very different ways, the same message comes across in both, and that is men are simpletons.
Both poems convey the male’s simplistic nature by demonstrating that males need to feel important. In “Siren Song”, the need for importance has fatal results. In the poem one of the three sirens, presumably a sadist in a bird costume, is divulging her secret as to how her and her associates are luring so many men into a watery grave. The secret is that it is not a song at all, but a cry for help, and the sirens go on to say "only you can [save me], you are unique". By appealing to the male’s ego, the sirens are sending squadrons of men to their deaths. The poem is suggesting that no man can resist the allure of glory, and like lambs to the slaughter, the men will perish one by one without learning a lesson. Again, the reader is to understand that the greatest flaw a man has, is his enormous ego.
“Rite of Passage” on the other hand, has a less sinister tone, but even greater condescension. In the poem, the men are only six to seven years of age and are constantly "seeing themselves tiny in the eyes of pupils” and so they engage in an argument of "I could beat you up" to bolster their ego. While both poems express destruction, “Rite of Passage” demonstrates the self-destructive nature of the male sex. “Siren Song” showed the male ego could at least motivate to save others' lives, “Rite of Passage” shows a side of male egocentrism that does not bear any usefulness other than to sustain itself by feeding on the destruction of others.
While both poems are simplistic in the explanation of how the male culture operates, “Rite of Passage” argues its claim better. In “Rite of Passage”, the only woman in the poem is the mother, and she is looking upon the "little men" with amusement. This places womankind \in much higher esteem in comparison to the men in this poem. “Siren Song” just doesn't match that level of pride in the female sex. From the standpoint of the mother, the tone is very condescending on male culture. By attributing to “man” qualities to the behavior of a six or seven year old, the author is generalizing that male culture is childish, even mocking the military, a traditionally male-oriented institution. By mentioning that the men see themselves tiny in each other's pupils, like generals, they will try to bolster their ranks through destruction. While “Siren Song” mentions that the male ego is predictable and easily manipulated, it just doesn't reach the sneering levels of condescension that “Rite of Passage” has. In fact while the poem does depict men dying for their ego, they're still responding to a cry for help, so actually, “Siren Song” is more optimistic in regards to man.

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