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Traveling through the Dark Summary & Analysis
by William E. Stafford

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The American poet William Stafford published "Traveling through the Dark" in 1962. While driving on a narrow road at night, the poem's speaker finds a dead deer and decides to move the body so that it won't cause other drivers to dangerously swerve out of the way. Upon dragging the deer toward a canyon, however, the speaker discovers that she was pregnant at the time of her death—and that her fawn is still alive inside her womb. Deciding that the fawn is doomed no matter what, the speaker only hesitates for a moment before pushing the doe off the road and into the river below. Through this unsettling incident, the poem highlights the destructive impact that human technology can have on the natural world, while also exploring the idea of moral responsibility and the choices people make when confronted with death. The poem is based on a real incident in Stafford's life.

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