In the poem by William Stafford, “Traveling Through the Dark” the narrator’s feelings of life and death are explored on Wilson River Road through the decision to cherish the life of a fawn inside its dead mother, or to prevent the lives of many more by disposing of the dead deer properly. In order to accurately convey the message in the poem, the narrator uses the word ‘swerve’ to reveal the similarity between cars swerving off the road and to the narrator’s decision to push the dead deer over the edge of a canyon with a living, breathing fawn still inside. Swerve means to go off path to get around something. Although not all situations are choices, there are times when a person must stop and make a choice to take another path. The author’s choice to use the word ‘swerve’ represents the uncertainty of life and how often people come across situations that were not at first apart of their path, and swerving is the only opinion in order to get where they want to be.
The setting is dark and fills the poem with a feeling of danger and suspense; the suspense of a decision between life and death. “Traveling through the dark” not only shows the narrator literally traveling at night, but also shows confusion. The narrator is all alone in the dark of the night with no one to help make a choice. Also the quotation “I stood in the warm exhaust turning red” symbolizes the fawn and the dead mother. ‘Red’ indicates death and blood, and ‘warm’ signifies the warmth being exposed from the deer’s stomach because of the life inside of it. It also appeals to the senses of sight and touch because the narrator can see the dead deer but was unable to notice the fawn until he touched the mother’s stomach. The author also uses personification in line fourteen, “under the hood purred the steady engine.” The author gives the inside of the car life like actions, although realistically, the car is not alive. Just as, the deer itself is not alive, yet inside of it a fawn is living,...
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