Travelling Through the Dark
Darkness is the traditional symbol for the unknown, the feared. It also symbolizes evil, confusion, and uncertainty. In William Stafford's poem "Traveling Through the Dark," the poem's narrator finds himself in a dilemma, which is particularly timely.� In the poem, the narrator describes an�event which suddenly makes him aware of his connection to his environment while, at the same time, the narrator realizes that his decision in the event at hand will have no good outcome.
In the poem's first stanza the narrator tells the reader that when he finds a dead deer on the road "it is usually best to roll them into the canyon" to protect unsuspecting motorists from swerving and perhaps driving into the canyon (3). This information suggests that he is a good samaritarian. However, the narrator soon learns that this si
At first, the speaker's course of action is clear: dispose of the dead doe by rolling her over the bank into the river before she causes an accident. This suggests that he is a good citizen because "It is usually best to roll them into the canyon:"and "…to swerve might make more dead" he knows he must push the doe off for the safety of other motorists (3, 4).
In the poem's second stanza, the word "stumbled," suggests the tentative approach of the speaker toward the doe (5). The speaker discovered that the doe was killed recently "…a recent killing" (6). He proceeds to drag the deer off the road, it is at this point he discovers she's pregnant "I dragged her off; she was large in the belly" (8). The lifeless deer, merely a heap of animal recently killed on the road, seems ready to be pushed into the canyon, but the next stanza reverses the image of the deer.
In the poem's third stanza, a closer examination of the deer reveals to the man new circumstances:
My fingers touching her side brought me the reason--
her side was warm; her fawn lay there waiting,
alive, still, never to be born.
Beside that mountain road I hesitated
He finds that the doe was near giving birth before she died and the fawn is still alive. His decision is now perplexing, and his course of action is unclear. The man must make a decision which is at first glance obvious and easy but upon further analyzes the decision is one which involves another life. Only then does he hesitate; he is probably wondering if it is best to leave the doe where it is, to give the fawn a chance. The speaker personifies the fawn by giving the impression that the fawn was "waiting" for some sort of action (10).The image of the deer evokes sympathy and compassion from the reader because the image isn't merely that of a dead...