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Shvoong Home>Arts & Humanities>Film And Theater Studies>The Siren Song of Stephen Jay Gould Summary

The Siren Song of Stephen Jay Gould

Book Summary   by:cort     Original Author: Benjamin Bettenbender
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A nameless man ties weights around his ankles and jumps off a bridge in a pathetic attempt to kill himself. Not only does he miss the water by a long shot, but he also lands right on top of a woman on the beach. The man comes out of the fall with a limp and a cut on his head, and the woman’s arm is broken. Before they attend to their medical needs, they have a very unusual conversation. The woman is angry that the man landed on her, but she is even more amused by the fact that he didn’t look before he jumped. If he had, he would have known the water was much lower than he thought and that she was standing right below him. The man doesn’t take to kindly to this woman making fun of his suicide attempt. Since his depression is so important, the woman demands to know why the man attempted suicide in the first place. It turns out that the man’s coworker gave him a book about evolution by Stephen J. Gould. After reading the book, the man became convinced his life (and all human life) is meaningless and accidental. Not only that, but he misses the woman he had his last relationship with five years ago. The woman thinks the man’s existential crisis is funny, but then he demands to know why her depression is so much better than his. The woman had come to the beach to throw a ring box into the water, because the man she loved left her. She can’t throw the box anymore, though, because her right arm is broken. The man gallantly throws the box for her. She confesses that she also recently made a suicide attempt. She thought she was drinking poison, but it was really Ipecac syrup. She became violently ill, but of course she didn’t die. She suggests to the man that he go to New York to jump off a bigger bridge. He likes the idea, and asks if she would like to go along. She’s not sure about that, but she would like to go on a date with him sometime. They limp off together to drive to a hospital.
Published: June 12, 2005   
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