Travelling Through The Dark | Questions And Answers | Class 12

Questions and answers of "Travelling Through The Dark". "Travelling Through The Dark" was written by William Edgar Stafford. William Edgar Stafford was an American poet and pacifist, and the father of poet and essayist Kim Stafford. William Stafford was born in Hutchinson, Kansas, on January 17, 1914. He received a BA and an MA from the University of Kansas at Lawrence and, in 1954, a PhD from the University of Iowa. During the Second World War, Stafford was a conscientious objector and worked in the civilian public service camps—an experience he recorded in the prose memoir Down My Heart (1947). He married Dorothy Hope Frantz in 1944; they had four children.

Also Read:
Travelling Through the Dark - Word Meanings And Translation In Nepali
Travelling Through The Dark - Summary In English

In 1948 Stafford moved to Oregon to teach at Lewis and Clark College. Though he traveled and read his work widely, he taught at Lewis and Clark until his retirement in 1980. His first major collection of poems, Traveling Through the Dark, was published when Stafford was forty-eight. It won the National Book Award in 1963. He went on to publish more than sixty-five volumes of poetry and prose. Among his many honors and awards were a Shelley Memorial Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Western States Lifetime Achievement Award in Poetry. In 1970, he was the Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (a position currently known as the Poet Laureate).
Among his best-known books are The Rescued Year (1966), Stories That Could Be True: New and Collected Poems (1977), Writing the Australian Crawl: Views on the Writer’s Vocation (1978), and An Oregon Message (1987). William Stafford died at his home in Lake Oswego, Oregon, on August 28, 1993.

Question No. 1: Explain the title of the poem. Who are all those travelling through the dark ? ( कविताको शीर्षकको व्याख्या गर्नुहोस्। अध्याँरोमा यात्रा गर्नेहरु को हुन् )
Answer: Literally, those travelling through the dark are the people who are travelling at night. In the poem, these travelers, including the poet, are driving along a road at a mountain side. However, metaphorically modern men living in the age of science and technology are the ones travelling through the dark and they do not realize that the safety of human race lies in a harmonious co-existence between man and nature.

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Answer: The poem is about a travel or mountain trip made by a group of men including the poet, who are probably nature travelers. It is night time and the car is passing through the mountain road.

The poem metaphorically reveals the serious conflict between the sophisticated modern men and the life-giving nature. Science and technology-equipped modern men are ironically travelling through the dark without realizing the safety of mankind in the lap of nature. Their activities are destroying the harmonious relationship between nature and men.
'Traveling Through the Dark' also refers to the insensitive, unmindful and ignorant people heading ahead meaninglessly putting emphasis on their own and belittling the importance of nature, a boon for them.

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Answer: By the title we know the speaker is driving a motor in the dark. He travels through the heights and along the jungle. He is nature lover. They are all nature lovers and naturalists who travel through the dark. “That road is narrow” indicates that the speaker is in the jungle by the side of the river, not in the highway.

Question No. 2: Show how the action develops stanza by stanza. ( कविताका श्लोकै पिच्छे कसरी घटना विकसित हुँदै जान्छ देखाऊ। )
Answer: The first stanza describes the speaker's act of finding the dead doe. In the second stanza, the speaker finds that the doe has a large belly when he drags it. The third stanza describes the speaker's mental and emotional reaction to the finding that the dead doe has a live fawn in her belly, waiting but never to be born. In the fourth stanza, the poet describes the activities of his car. In the last stanza, the speaker thinks hard for his group, and pushes the pregnant doe into the river.

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Answer: The action moves from physical to mental as the poem progresses. In the first stanza, the speaker sees a dead deer on the road and wants to avoid driving around it. Then, we see the speaker stop his car and get out of it. He walks backward to notice a recently killed pregnant doe. He also drags it to the side of the road. After that, the speaker feels for the ill-fated unborn deer and remains undecided as to what action to take. The penultimate stanza describes the car and its activities in the wilderness. And, in the final stanza, the speaker finally pushes the dead deer into the river after much thinking.

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Answer: The poem has five stanzas and each stanza is interrelated. In the first stanza, the speaker finds a dead deer on the way and pulls it to the side. In the second stanza, he gets down the car and sees a deer killed immediately. It is stiff and cold. He pulls it off. In the third stanza, the speaker doesn’t act but thinks seriously about the living fawn inside the belly of the deer. In the fourth stanza, he explains the sounds of machine in the car in the isolated place. And in the last stanza, he pushes the deer into the river.

Question No. 3: At what point does the physical action cease, to be replaced by another kind ? ( कुन विन्दुमा शारीरिक कार्य समाप्त हुन्छ र अर्को प्रकारको कार्यले त्यसको ठाउँ लिन्छ ? )
Answer: The physical action ceases ( रोकिन्छ ) in the third stanza. When the speaker touches the dear, he finds its belly to be warm. It suggests that the fawn is alive, but it's mother is dead. There is no one to give birth to it. The fawn will die before it is born. This feeling makes him sentimental. In this way, the physical action is here replaced by emotional action.

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Answer: In the third stanza, the physical action ceases and mental actions begins. The speaker feels the warm belly of the dead doe and seriously thinks about the future of the fawn and imagines different things about it.

Question No. 4: How do the last two lines complete both types of action ? ( दुवै प्रकारका कार्यहरु अन्तिम दुई पंक्तिमा कसरी परिपूर्ण हुन्छन् ? )
Answer: The last two lines of the poem complete both types of action : mental and physical. The dead doe was disturbing travelers and posed the risk of accidents. The speaker wanted to remove it but found it was pregnant, with a live fawn in her belly. By pushing the doe into the river, he cleared the road for other travelers. In this way, the speaker strikes a solution to the problem.

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Answer: There are two types of action – physical and mental – in the poem. These two actions come together in the last two lines. The speaker contemplates (thinks deeply) the possible course of action to be taken on behalf of his group members (human beings) as regards to the dead doe, and finally throws it into the river. Thus, after deep thought he pushes the dead deer.

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Answer: The last two lines complete both physical and mental activities. The first line of the last stanza shows mental activity and the speaker thinks about the living creatures and nature. But the last two line describes the physical activity of the speaker and he pulls the doe into the river. Both activities end.

Question No 5: What is the meaning of the last two lines of the poem ? Does the poem moralize ? ( कविताको अन्तिम दुई पंक्तिको अर्थ के हो ? के यस कविताले नैतिकताका बारेमा केही भन्छ ? ) Or What is the central idea of the poem ?
Answer: The last two lines of the poem carry the central idea of the poem. They suggest that we should handle the conflicting situation in a rational manner. The speaker throws the dead doe into the river although it has a live fawn inside its belly. If he was guided by emotions, the dead deer on the narrow road could create many problems for other travelers.

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Answer: The last two lines in the poem means there is a problem in the environment and problem of life. The life problem can’t be corrected because the doe is already killed which is bitter reality. The dead body can pollute the environment and the speaker has morality to last duality of life and to keep environment clean so he completes his duty.

Question No. 6: What is the tone of the poem: ironical, sympathetic, indifferent ? ( यस कविताको भाव कस्तो छ : व्याङ्गात्मक, सहानुभूतिपूर्ण, निरपेक्ष ? )
Answer: The dominant tone of the poem is ironic but there are expressions that arouse a deep sense of sympathy for the dead doe and her doomed, alive but never to be born fawn. It is ironic that the speakers seems to express sympathy towards the fawn but suddenly "swerves" and takes and action that his inner conscience ( अन्तरात्मा ) would possibly not allow him to do. In other words, he is moved by the sight of the never be born fawn in the belly but kills the fawn at once by pushing the doe into the river. It is an irony that sometimes we are forced to do things against our inner voice.

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Answer: The speaker seems to combine various moods in the poem. He shows sympathy towards the unborn baby deer, not the doe. However, he is not indifferent as he makes a decision at the end to roll the deer into the river. I feel the tone is mostly ironical. This is so because the speaker thinks one thing and takes another course of action. We think he will rescue the unborn baby, but he doesn't. He could have taken the deer to a nearby animal hospital and could have rescued the baby, but he doesn't do so. The speaker is, indeed, in two minds. This is the irony of life as we can't do all the good things we are taught and brought up to believe and practice. The speaker takes the ugly course of action – pushing the deer. It is ironical also that we kill innocent animals and not decide clearly what appropriate action to make.

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Answer: The tone of the poem is ironical. At first, the poet shows sympathy on the fawns but at last he ends the life of the fawn. The poet seems nature lover but kills the doe and it’s unborn kid. The reader shows love to the fawn but not to the doe. So, in conclusion, the poem has ironical tone although there is sympathy on fawn.

Question No. 7: What is the central idea of the poem?
Answer: The poet seems to explore the conflict that goes on in the human mind between ugly virtuous actions, like responsibility, duty, etc one is taught to believe in and practise in day to day life and the difficulty of executing them at crucial times. In this poem the speaker is in an ironical situation as he is made to think deeply to do something to save the unborn fawn for which he is not responsible. Sorrowfully, he can do nothing. He is a representative helpless man. He does the unthinkable – pushing the pregnant dead deer off the road. He also seems to advocate for the protection of innocent animals that are killed by careless driving in the narrow mountain road.

Question No. 8: Do you agree with what the narrator did? Why?
Answer: Yes, I agree with what the narrator or poet did. He couldn't leave the dead doe on the narrow road because that might bring a fatal accident. He thought hard and weighed the two conflicting realities on the scale of rational decision making. So he pushed the doe into the canyon clearying the road for other travellers and doing the justice for the fawn. The poet took the easy course of action because he could do nothing at the dark hour except allowing the fawn to have a slow death. For this reason, I agree with his quick decision to get rid of his existing dilemma.

Question No. 9: Why does the narrator hesitate before pushing the dead deer off the road?
Answer: The poet, Stafford hesitates before pushing the dead doe off the road because he has felt the alive fawn in the womb of its dead mother. He is under moral obligation to save it. But on the other hand, if he leaves the dead doe lying on the road, it may bring a fetal accident to his fellow travellers. He has no choice but to opt for one or the other. So he pushes the doe into the river with hard mind providing a slow painful death to the never to be born fawn.

Question No. 10: Explain the meaning of the word "swerve" in line 4 and line 17. Does the speaker "swerve"?
Answer: Swerve in line 4 means "change direction suddenly" and it has a physical meaning. In line 17 it means "mind movement from one idea, thought to another" and it has a mental meaning. In the first instance, neither the speaker nor the car swerves, because if that was done, there would be more casualties on the narrow mountain road besides the dead pregnant doe. In the second instance, the poet swerves between the easy course of action (pushing the deer into the river) and the more difficult, but better course of action (trying to save the unborn baby deer). He chooses the easy course.

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Answer: In line four of the word “swerve” means to change the direction of the car and in line seventeen the word “swerve” means to change the idea. In line four, the speaker doesn’t move or change the direction of his car because it makes the condition of deer worse and in line seventeen he changes his mind and pushes the deer into the river instead of thinking about the fawn’s fate.

Question No. 11: Stanza 4 is a break in the narrative. How do you explain its significance in the poem?
Answer: Stanza 4 describes the car, its dim lights, the purring of the engine and the smoke coming out of its exhaust pipe. This description contrasts with the earlier stanzas as he had been describing the occasion of the dead deer knocked down by an unknown passing vehicle and the possible courses of action available to him. The break in the narrative of the poem has an ironic significance as we come to learn that the car is more alive than the deer carrying a live baby inside it. We also see the contrast in that the smoke is "warm" but the doe is stiff and cold. The car seems to be urging the speaker to make quick decision, and hence the physical action of the first three stanzas is replaced by mental action in the fifth stanza that eventually results in the disposal of the dead deer.

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Answer: From first stanza to third stanza the speaker describes the condition if deer and it’s fawn’s fate but immediately in the fourth stanza, the writer changes the subject and describes his situation. It is important because there is a part of life that they should continue their journey. The break occurs because the poem moves from physical description to the mental state of the poet. He changes his mind and decides to push the dead deer into the river.

Question No. 12: Do you think the reference to the alive but never-to-be-born fawn sentimental ?
Answer: Yes, of course, the poet tries to make the poem sentimental and he opens the reality of the life of the fawn. They are made but dead without birth in the earth. It is bitter reality.

Discussion:

Question No. 1: Write a short essay on "Driving in the Dark" ("Driving in the Dark" शीर्षकमा एक छोटो निबन्ध लेख। )
Answer: Driving in the dark can be a great fun. But it is not without dangers. You have to depend solely ( एकमात्र ) on the lights of your car. There are very few vehicles at night. So, you can drive faster. It is still more enjoyable if you are driving along a wide, plain well pitched road and travelling through the forest. Though no place is completely safe, you are relatively safer far away from cities and villages. You can see the twinkling stars above if it is a clear dark night. You have no much fear of colliding with other vehicles at night because headlights are clearly visible from miles away. Moreover, it is very quiet in the forest though you may hear the night sounds of birds and insects and some wild animals. But these sounds are a joy in themselves. If you are a nature lover you will never feel disturbed.
The greatest danger in night time driving through forest is that accidents do often take place in an attempt to avoid colliding with wild animals standing or roaming on the road. That is the time you may have to be careful. If you feel you can't save the animal, run it over. Do not swerve. Otherwise your car might turn over and meet with a serious accident.

Question No. 2: Are animals-both wild and domestics a nuisance for the driver ? Suggest what would you like to do about them ? ( के जनावरहरु-पाल्तु र जङ्गली दुवैले गाडी चालकलाई दु:ख दिन्छन् ? यस विषयमा तपाई के गर्न मन पराउनु हुन्छ, सुझाव दिनुहोस्। )
Answer: Both wild and domestic animals can be a nuisance for the driver. However, humans should not blame the animals for any accidents caused by them. After all, they are not rational beings. If there is one to blame it is us. The duty to find out ways to stop animals being a nuisance lies on human.
Similarly, wild animals, too, cause accidents, especially while you are driving at night. They are often attracted towards the headlights. Some wild animals search foods at night. Some other stay out on the road in herds. If you are driving a heavy vehicle, it is almost impossible to swerve. Doing so might lead to an accident.
In our country, accident caused by animals, is on the increase. Domestic animals should not be allowed to be driven on roads. People often ignore that danger until they themselves became victims. There should be laws preventing people from taking their cattle on roads. Those who breach laws should be fined. If a rod traverses a jungle, there should be barbed-wire fences on both the sides. Some of the steps are costly but we will have to take because we can't risk priceless human and animal life.

Question No. 3: Elaborate the poem in your own words.
Answer: William Stafford’s poem “Traveling though the Dark” presents both physical and mental actions. The first stanza begins with physical action but ends with mental action. Traveling through the dark is physical and thinking of rolling into the canyon is mental. In the second stanza, the speaker stumbles back, goes up to her and drags. All these activities are physical. Hence, second stanza is the description of physical actions. Physical actions of the second stanza continue in the third also. The speaker touches the deer’s side and knows about the presence of offspring inside. This physical action leads to mental action; he hesitates after he knows its condition. Not knowing what to do further, he stands in the glare of red in the third stanza. Here too, like in the second stanza, we find physical actions. The fourth stanza presents both actions like the first one. The speaker thinks of returning, but finds it impractical. So, he pushes the deer into the river.

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