The Road of Life

5 May 2017

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 through the dark” on a treacherous winding road when suddenly he sees a dead deer in the road. Right away, the speaker realizes what he must do: “It is usually best to roll them into the canyon. ” The reader can recognize that this is not a new situation for the speaker and he makes it clear that to leave the deer lying in the road could cause an unsuspecting car to swerve and go toppling into the canyon, which “might make more dead.

The speaker then continues to report the details of what he did next: he got out of the car, which he parked Just ahead of the deer carcass, and “stumbled back of the car. ” He examines the deer and finds that she has “stiffened already, almost cold. ” But as he drags her body over to the lip of the canyon, he notices that “she was large in the belly. ” It appears that the doe is pregnant because when he felt her side it was warm. The baby was still alive. This turn of events causes the speaker to reconsider. Pushing a dead deer off the side of the cliff is one thing, but a deer whose baby is alive is different.

The Road of Life Essay Example

He knows that if he ushes the dead doe over the cliff, he is killing the unborn baby, so “beside that mountain road [he] hesitated. ” Although a car could come speeding around the turn at any time, the situation catches the speaker off guard and makes him wonder how could he Just heartlessly toss away this innocent life? The speaker seems to be contemplating two options. He could try to deliver the baby to save its life, which he would prefer to do. But he quickly realizes that this option is not a realistic one at all. He couldn’t do a surgery like this on such a dark road and be able to keep the baby alive.

The speaker thinks “hard” about what to do. He calls his hesitation “my only swerving,” because when he realized that the doe was pregnant, his decision to toss it over was reconsidered. But he finally comes to the conclusion that he has no choice but to try to save other humans before it’s too late so he “pushed her over the edge into the river. ” Who is it best for, the deer or man? Is human life more important than animal life? These are questions that arise when reading the poem and are questions that the speaker must answer before the night is over.

Through his use of metaphor, symbolism, and personification, Stafford alludes to the difficult decisions that occur long the road of life, especially death, and the consequences that are a result from those decisions. With the use of these devices, Stafford shows the theme of death as a consequence of these decisions and reveals the conflict between humans and nature. The poem uses four four-line stanzas and a concluding two-line verse. It is a narrative description of the speaker’s actions during the darkness. There are no regular rhyme schemes and it’s irregular in meter.

But Stafford seemed to be playing with rhymes by using near rhymes like “road” and “dead”; “killing” and “belly’; waiting” and “hesitated”; “engine” and “listen”; “swerving” and “river. ” Stafford may be doing this so the poem doesn’t have a definite structure, giving it a more relaxed feeling when reading it. The poem seems to be set in a conversation style, where the speaker is talking out loud, reliving the event that occurred that night. To illustrate the theme of death, Stafford presents a metaphor relating the literal road to the road “Wilson River road. Also, the reader gets the sense that the road is dark and isolated. The only lit section of this road is the stretch that the speaker is travelling n. Symbolically, this represents the speaker’s current life. The road that has already been traveled symbolizes his past. The speaker may be unable to see his past because of the darkness. He also literally can’t see farther ahead, only as far as the headlights will allow, because of the darkness. This symbolizes how the future in our lives is yet to be discovered. Stafford’s symbolic description of the road is comparable toa man’s trip along the path of life.

In this poem though, Stafford reveals conflicts with stopping along the path of life, not travelling along it. The eceased deer is what forces the speaker to stop along the road, but death in life is what causes humans to stop along their path and take time to make decisions. Stafford also uses symbolism of the deer, canyon, and river to reinforce his theme. The deer is seen as a roadblock which must be dealt with before the speaker can continue on his trip. He can’t simply push death to the side of the road as the reader sees when he has a hard time making up his mind.

But the deer would Just decay if it were left there. Instead, as Stafford states in the first stanza, “it is usually best to oll them into the canyon. ” Stafford shows the way to deal with this is to discard of it immediately and not to hesitate at all. This may be true for the safety of other cars and people, but symbolically the reader sees it is necessary to deal with this problem so one can continue on their path in life. The canyons with the river at the bottom could symbolically represent a way to wash all our problems away.

By Just pushing the deer over the edge and not hesitating, one is getting rid of this problem without letting these troubles hold them back. Another way the decisions made when topping along the road of life are symbolized is through Stafford’s use of language. The word “swerving” is used twice in the poem. When explaining why the man should move the deer, Stafford writes, “to swerve might make more dead. ” This also could symbolically refer to a swerve in Judgment. If the speaker makes a swerve in his decision, it has consequences which may cause problems or even death.

A limited
time offer!
Save Time On Research and Writing. Hire a Professional to Get Your 100% Plagiarism Free Paper