In the poem “Traveling Through the Dark” by William Stafford, the speaker makes a decision.Identify his decision and the pros and cons that might have entered into it.

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copelmat eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The speaker of this poem is driving late at night along a winding mountain road above a river. As he comes around a curve, he encounters a doe dead in the middle of the road. He pulls his car over with the intention of dragging the dead doe to the side of the road so that no motorists behind him come around the curve too quickly as have an accident. However, when he examines the body of the doe, he realizes that she is pregnant and that the fawn is still alive within her.

The decision he must make then is whether to drag the doe to the side of the road and avoid any potential vehicle accidents (which would also likely end the life of the fawn), or attempt to save the fawn there in the middle of the road risking his own life and the lives of any motorists that come along. The question and decision operate on multiple levels: literal, metaphorical, and allegorical.

Ultimately, the speaker makes the decision he feels is best but even then we sense that he questions his own thought process and rationalization.