Compare And Contrast Woodchucks And Traveling Through The Dark

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It is universally acknowledged that all creatures on Earth fare by survival of the fittest. In the case of “Woodchucks” by Maxine Kumin and “Traveling Through the Dark”by William Stafford, the power dynamic of human and animal is illustrated. Each speaker encounters animals, and approaches their situation with a different attitude but identical decision. The speaker in “Woodchucks”, a farmer, is struggling with a Woodchuck infestation and resolves to shooting the woodchucks on the farm one by one. Meanwhile, the speaker in “Traveling Through the Dark” is conflicted about what should be done with a dead pregnant deer left on a empty road, and whether he should push her off the cliff to avoid any future accidents. In the two poems, each of the…show more content…
In “Woodchucks”, the speaker’s tone shifts greatly throughout the different stages of the poem. Initially, irritation is sensed, as the most “humane” way to kill the woodchucks does not work-gassing. The primary allusion to the Jews during Hitler’s regime is also introduced in this tone. The tone then develops into one of excitement, or “Righteously thrilling/ to the feel of the .22” [13-14], as the farmer begins to shoot the woodchucks, depicting each death in a dramatic way. Word choice such as “flip flopped” indicate a careless attitude towards the lives of the animals. But with a tinge of disappointment the speaker, “a lapsed pacifist fallen from grace” [15], transitions the tone in a compelling way. By the final stanza, the tone reverts back to a distinct irritation. With the second allusion to the Jewish and Hitler “If only they’d all consented to die unseen/ gassed underground the quiet Nazi way” [29-30], the farmer yearns for a quiet departure, fleeing the consequences of the kill from the farmer’s humanity, hence alleviating his blame. The aforementioned shifts in tone, with irritation, frustration, thrill, and disappointment, showcase a negative attitude towards the woodchucks, and ultimately, humanity’s power over the value of the life of an
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