Maxine Kumin's Traveling Through The Dark

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The more animals share our physical traits, the more we tend to have pity on them and their fate, particularly if it happens to be a bad one. The smaller they are, the more we see them as freeloading parasites. It is our duty to wipe them off the face of the earth. Our family has a philosophy of loving animals, small or larger, "from a distance." That is how we avoid emotional attachment to creatures outside the human race. When you step back, you can state in full confidence that animals are neither good nor bad. We are the ones that portray them as such based on our cultures and life experiences. Because we have dominion over most of the terrestrial territory, we are constantly under the illusion that we are entitled to live without…show more content…
The narrator of "Traveling through the Dark" presents a caring facade. He cites the exact location where he found the deer, "Wilson River road." Considering the fact that finding a deer's carcass was not on his agenda, we are surprised that he looks back on it with such detail. This recollection is entirely in his favor as it demonstrates that the incident was shocking enough for him to remember. The speaker took his time to analyze the state of the poor creature and remember. The speaker took his time to analyze the state of the poor creature and silently mourn her in the gradation in line 6: "the heap, a doe, a recent killing." As readers, we feel compassion towards this blameless man who pities an animal he has not killed. The next action that we would expect from the speaker is to leave the doe or push her into the river. But the narrator managers to thrill our compassionate side through physical contact with the deer: his fingers "touching her side" and leading him into more "hesitat[ion]". This display of deep strain is in complete opposition to the speaker of "Woodchucks." Indeed, the first word of the poem, is "Gassing." This strikes us as shocking, as we are not used to such blunt language. The tone is eerie as we learn of the speaker's detailed plan to murder the woodchucks. The speaker turns a rodent extermination into a battle between humans, who are…show more content…
The one from "Traveling through the Dark" faces the dilemma of what course to take near the very beginning of the poem. There is a sense of smoothness suggested by the alliteration in "I" in line 3: "usually...roll"; events will follow one after the other. The speaker realizes that no matter how much he might pity the doe and her unborn fawn, he must adhere to common sense and go through with his disposal of her body. Similarly, the speaker from Maxine Kumin's poem is facing the destruction of a vegetable garden by rodents. The speaker's justification, that they are stealing "[t]he food from our mouths", comes up near the middle of the poem. This justification, before the start of the measured destruction of the creatures, tell us that the speaker must have been struggling with guilt. However heartless we might have believed the speaker to be until this point, he or she is slowly redeeming him- or herself in the readers' eyes. Only the speaker of the William Stafford poem goes through with "push[ing] her over the edge". He has come to a point of no return. The narrator of "Woodchucks," however, has an uncompleted mission. The motivation to kill the "one chuck [that is] left" has not ceased. The speaker bitterly accuses the "[o]ld wily" woodchuck of being too shrewd. We can see that in both cases,the human psyche has the upper hand in all decisions concerning the fate

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