electronic harpie's discourse

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The source is "Once upon a time" by Nadine Gordimer.

In this story, there is a family with the house equipped with the alarm system.
The following sentence is about the alarm system.

Under cover of the electronic harpies' discourse intruders broke the burglar bars and took away
goods from the house.

What does "under cover of the electronic harpies' discourse" mean?

Thank you.
  • JamesM

    Senior Member
    A harpy is a mythical monster with the head of a woman and a bird's body. It's also a word that can be used to describe a nagging, bad-tempered woman.

    The author is comparing the incessant noise of the alarm (probably speaking words such as "intruder alert!") to nagging women. The voices are electronic, so you have "the electronic harpies' discourse (talking)" which was so loud that it covered the noise of the burglars as they broke the bars and stole things from the house.
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