Transcending Beliefs In William Stafford's Traveling Through The Dark

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Transcending Beliefs During the early 1800’s, American society was immersed in the concept of Transcendentalism, the idea of transcending beyond the obvious to create your own interpretation and lifestyle. In the poem “Traveling through the Dark,” author William Stafford explores the actions of a man who encounters a deer on the side of a narrow road. Before making his decision, the man contemplates his options; save the fawn, or push the doe off into the canyon. A superficial reader may assume the poem is only about the deer, but actually it provides a way to explain the rationale of the narrator when concerning conforming to society. The beginning of the poem mentions how the narrator is “traveling through the dark” when he comes across…show more content…
The doe is intended to represent a transcendentalist who was recently conformed back into society. The narrator realizes this, but also becomes conscious of the baby deer inside the mother. This fawn is a symbol of the ideas of the former transcendentalist and how now, since the doe is no longer a part of the divergent members, all the knowledge and creativity gained through this previous lifestyle are lost. Contemplating the outcome of his actions, the narrator hesitates before making his final decision. Due to this, the reader can come to the conclusion that the man may not truly want to just push the doe off the road because of the fawn; however, since this is the ritual action, he is impelled in that direction. Individuals have a strenuous time attempting to differentiate themselves from society, similar to the narrator in the poem. New ideas and ways of life are looked upon as strange and nonsensical, which is why most people follow the lead of others. This is further explained by the mention of how the narrator could “hear the wilderness listen.” In this instance, the wilderness does not directly indicate the animals and vegetation around him, but rather society as a whole. Humanity wants individuals to perform the way it is determined to be the most valuable option; therefore, if someone goes against this belief, whatever needs to be done to end the…show more content…
This can be directly related to society; humanity wants what is most beneficial for everyone, not just the individual. Even though the narrator may have aspired to let the fawn live, he ultimately could not go against the repetitive choice of humanity. When analyzing the title, “Traveling through the Dark,” the reader can assume this is meant to refer to how society is blind to those individuals who are anti-conformist. The “dark” can be a reference to their close-minded tendencies and scarcity of emotion when making decisions. When partnering the “dark” with the “parking lights,” the reader can come to the assumption that the speaker, who is standing in the light, is deflecting more towards the transcendentalist thinking. It shows that no matter how adapted an individual is in his/her routine, there is always the possibility to go beyond the standard knowledge. The speaker is finally realizing there may be more to life than what society has always displayed. Along with the dark/light binary, there is also the opposition between cold and warm. This can also be explained through the narrow mindedness of compliant individuals. When considering the darkness, the concept of cold is generally related directly with it, and warm with light. The ideas of the transcending thinkers bring a light on society by making humanity consider other possibilities and

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