Death of an animal Essay

Submitted By cutie102310
Words: 1155
Pages: 5

Death and Coping: Perspective is everything
Death is a subject that brings many perspectives where it may go. Like opinions, coping with death is a subjective matter, varying from person to person. Although the psychological and emotional coping is different for everyone, in John Updike’s “Dog’s Death”, and “Traveling Through the Dark” by William E. Stafford, the reader gets two contradictory attitudes towards the death of an animal in two situations: one in which feelings are invested, and the other in which none are invested. The emotional response depicts that dealing with death is a misery business, especially if a loved one, or a beloved friend, or pet was involved. “Traveling Through the Dark” depicts the colder, more accepting attitude towards life. While both are stages of grief, they are two very different responses.
“Dog’s Death” illustrates the thoughts and feelings of a pet owner, or an emotionally involved person in the case of death of an animal. Updike’s poem describes a family raising a dog, nursing it, encouraging it, and nurturing it with love while she is dying. The poem opens up with the narrator describing the dog “beginning to learn to use the newspapers spread on the kitchen floor.” The narrator is watching the dog grow, and learn. The dog is encouraged with the words, “Good dog! Good dog!” From the opening of the poem, a pet owner’s perspective is being seen, and continues throughout. The love for this dog is shown through the fact that the narrator and her family are playing with the dog regardless of the fact that “as [they tease] her with play, blood [is] filling her skin and her heart [is] learning to lie down forever.” They are trying to make the dog as comfortable as possible, enjoying her presence as long as they can. In addition, when the dog is found “twisted and limp, but still alive”, the speaker attempts to bring her to the vet. However, the dog dies before they can reach the vet. The reactions to its death confirm the love the family has for the dog. The speaker, upon realizing the dog is dead, begins “[stroking] her warm fur” while his wife “[calls] in a voice imperious with tears.” The reactions are similar to the reactions a pet owner would have. The speaker explains the dog “sank and, stiffening, disappeared.” A gloomy, depressing tone is created with the diction of the writer, showing the pain the narrator and his family is in due to the death of the dog. The bond created between the dog and its family intensifies the pain of the loss for them, making the death more tragic to them. Finally, the narrator describes how the family is remembering the dog as well as praising her, even after death. Updike creates an image of the newspaper, a picture frame displaying a picture of the dog, and ends the poem with the two words of encouragement the family gave the dog as they watched it learn and grow: good dog. Emotional attachments intensify the pain of a loss, human or animal.
Experiencing death however isn’t always emotional. A more casual attitude is seen “Traveling Through the Dark” by William E. Stafford. Stafford depicts the death of an animal as something normal. His interpretation shows no reaction to killing a doe and her fawn. He labels her “a recent killing”. His terminology indicates that he feels no sympathy for the injured doe, or the fawn inside her. The speaker’s attitude appears to be that of a hunter’s. Furthermore, he says the best thing to do is “to roll them into the canyon.” Evidently, he’s done that multiple times, and that it’s completely acceptable to him to dispose of an animal like it’s a piece of trash. The poem concludes with Stafford’s narrator pushing the doe into the river, without trying to save her, regardless of the fact that she is pregnant. His reaction is overall heartless, because he shows no consideration for the doe or her unborn fawn. While both are similar events, the primary difference is the reaction each of the speakers describes.…