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“Death of a young son by drowning”


The poem, “Death of a young son by drowning,” written by Margret Atwood, perfectly shows the altering of life, which comes after the loss of a child. Her words describe the similes and the events in the poem. Thus, the poem incorporates powerful features of realism, since it centers around the internal struggle of the writer, who is a woman/ mother, who has just lost her son in the accident of drowning. Therefore, the primary purpose of this analysis is to understand possible symbols, such as the river, the landscape, spring and the sun shining, as well as how they are effectively used in the poem.


The poem starts with a metaphor for birth, which connects directly to a particular accident. Atwood finds irony in the ‘dangerous river of his own’ The term ‘birth canal’ symbolizes the way the river explains the whole context. Water is a life-giving substance, but it is also powerful to take life away. The dangerous river in the writer’s son’s death shows his birth, which is quickly replaced by death.

Furthermore, the landscape is a vital symbol in the poem. The writer imagines n what the son sees before he dies. She explains an approach to death and afterlife, whereby “the son has become a wanderer, looking at a particular landscape” that every individual has seen before, but some forget about it. She states that everyone is born and dies, returning to a non-existent place, where no one knows about it.

Also, other symbols that Atwood uses are the spring, the sun shining, and the solidification of new grass. These symbols connect to form a perspective that the worlds keep changing as well as the struggle between death and life cycle represents the distinction between personhood and motherhood. Even if the child dies, life continues. Thus, the message presented in the poem shows that life should go on even after heart-shattering, and intense grief has occurred.

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In the poem, “Death of a young son by drowning”, there are three main symbols, which provide the general meaning of the poem. They include the river, which gives and takes life, the landscape portrays non-existence after death while the spring and sun shining, symbolize the continuity of life after death/loss. Therefore, the analysis aims at understanding symbolism, as used in the poem, to explain the events and meaning of the poem.