Importance of Control in Stafford's Traveling Through the Dark

730 Words 3 Pages
Importance of Control in Stafford's Traveling Through the Dark


In William Stafford's "Traveling Through the Dark," the narrator encounters a dead deer on the edge of the road. He knows that the safe and proper course of action is to push the deer into the canyon, but when he finds that the doe was near giving birth before she died, he hesitates to kill the unborn fawn. Stafford's central idea in the poem revolves around the decision the narrator makes to sacrifice the deer in order to clear the road of obstacles, so that others who drive on the dark, narrow road won't have to swerve.


The image of the deer evokes sympathy and compassion from the reader because the image isn't merely that of a dead animal. The second
…show more content…
The fawn is alive, but still, and unable to move or live without help. Through the image of the deer, the reader can sympathize with the deer and understand the narrator's hesitation at rolling the mother off the cliff and killing the baby.


The scene surrounding the narrator during his hesitation conveys the sorrow and regret of having to choose death for the fawn. Stafford describes the whole scene:


The car aimed ahead its lowered parking lights;

under the hood purred the steady engine.

I stood in the glare of the warm exhaust turning red;

around our group I could hear the wilderness listen.


During this moment of silence, nature awaits the decision of the narrator. The stanza passes smoothly in the reading because of a smooth rhythm and some assonance and alliteration. The combinations of aimed and ahead, lowered and lights, glare and group, and warm and wilderness create a smoother reading coupled with the first sign of some rhyming from the end words engine and listen. The smooth silence accentuates the mourning present in this stanza. Even the car metaphorically presents the sorrow of the scene. The car's eyes, its lights, are cast downward, paying respect to the deer. The purr of the steady engine enhances the silence and gives the car more animalistic qualities, as a part of

Related Documents