Essay about Traveling Through the Dark by William Stafford

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Traveling Through the Dark by William Stafford In his poem, "Traveling Through the Dark," William Stafford presents the reader with the difficulty of one man's choice. Immediately, the scene is set, with the driver, who is "traveling though the dark" (line 1) coming upon a recently killed deer. At first, his decision with what to do with the deer is easy; he knows he must push it off the edge for the safety of other motorists, but then, a closer examination of the deer reveals to the man new circumstances. His decision is now perplexing, and his course of action is unclear. Through his use of metaphor, symbolism, and personification, Stafford alludes to the difficult decisions that occur along the road of life, and the…show more content…
The deceased deer is what forces the man to stop along the road, and death in general is what causes humans to stop along their path and take time to make decisions. One main way the theme of death is illustrated is through symbolism of the deer, canyon, and river. The deer is a roadblock which must be dealt with before the man can continue on his journey. He cannot simply push death to the side of the road. Here, the deer would rot and fester; instead, as Stafford states in the first stanza, " it is usually best to roll them into the canyon" (line 3). The way to deal with this problem is to discard of it immediately and to not hesitate at all. Literally, this is true for the safety of other motorists. Furthermore, it is necessary to deal properly with this problem so one can continue on their path in life. The canyon, and river at the bottom, therefore come to symbolize the depth of our individual souls; we push problems into our souls, and slowly deal with them. By doing this, our problems and death, may be symbolically washed away. Another way the decisions made when stopping along the road of life are symbolized is through Stafford?s use of the double entendre "swerving" (lines 4, 17). Literally, when explaining why the man should move the deer, Stafford writes, "to swerve [in a car] might make more dead" (line 4). This also refers to a swerve in
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