Doe Season Essay, Research Paper
Thesis: Throughout “Doe Season,” David Kaplan uses symbolism to carry Andy through her rite of passage into womanhood.
I. Andy is unknowing as she ventures out on a hunting trip with her father.
A.She leaves at night and arrives at her destination early in the morning.
B.She comments on the space between where she was and the moon.
II.Andy is maturing slowly as the story progresses.
A.Andy carries her own pack.
B.She drinks coffee imitating her father (holding the cup like he does.).
C.Andy volunteers to go out alone to gather firewood.
III.Andy has matured to the point of womanhood and is learning acceptance of herself.
A.After Andy shot the deer, she had a dream that her hand was inside the bullet hole and the wound closed around her hand.
B.Andy ran while her father was gutting the deer and no longer answered to Andy but Andrea.
Published in 1985, David Kaplan’s short story “Doe Season” is set in the Pennsylvania woods. This story reveals the trials and tribulations Andy, a dynamic character, goes through to reach her final destination of womanhood. Throughout “Doe Season,” David Kaplan uses symbolism to carry Andy through her rite of passage into womanhood.
Andy is unknowing as she ventures out on a hunting trip with her father. Early in the morning, Andy and her father are awaiting the arrival Mac and his son Charlie. The four of them are going hunting in the woods. Mac and Charlie finally arrive. After loading the car, the four of them begin their way into the woods. The woods were only several miles behind her house, but “it was like thinking of the space between here and the moon” (342). At daybreak, Andy awoke to find them riding over gentle hills in the Pennsylvania valley. They were almost there. It was almost time to begin hunting.
The first portion of a rite of passage story is the character going into or approaching the unknown. In “Doe Season,” the unknown is the woods. Andy and the crew leave when it is still dark out and arrive when it is daybreak. This symbolizes a new thing or a big change is going to occur. Later in the story, we learn of the big change that has occurred.
Andy is maturing as the story progresses. As the crew first arrives at their destination, everyone is getting their gear ready. Andy carries her own pack. She also says to Mac, “I can carry a pack as big as yours any day” (344). This symbolizes that she is growing up and can do things for herself. After the group hunts for a bit, they stop to eat lunch. At lunch, the group eats bean soup prepared by Andy’s mother. As Andy washed the lunch dishes, Charlie and her father drank a few swigs of some Jim Beam. Then they all had coffee, even Andy. Andy drank the coffee imitating the way her father held the cup, noting that it was not by the handle but around the rim (345). She also noticed the coffee tasted smoky, but drank it all anyway. Following the coffee, the group began to hunt again. A few hours later, they stopped again, this time for dinner. While Andy was unpacking the food and preparing for dinner, the men of the group were busy setting up the tents. Andy then volunteers to go out alone to gather wood to start a fire (346). After dinner, the four of them went to sleep for the night.
Charlie, Mac, Andy and her father awoke the next morning before the light of day. They all went hunting again. Andy spotted the first deer. The group was making plenty of noise, but the deer did not run away. Her father wanted Andy to shoot the deer, but Charlie argued that she probably couldn’t shoot the gun on her own. Andy, a little hesitant, did shoot the deer on her own. She hit the deer where the legs met the chest. The deer fell but did not stay down. It got up and walked away. As the deer walked away Andy prayed that it would die. She did not want it to suffer. She was almost in tears as she thought these thoughts. The group ended their adventure for the night.
Andy has matured to the point of womanhood and is learning the acceptance of herself. While everyone was asleep, Andy had a dream. She got up out of her sleeping bag and stepped outside the tent. It was unusually warm. She saw the deer that she had shot just hours earlier. It was not frightened of her. In fact, it walked right up to her. She reached out and touched the deer. Slowly, her hand rubbed along the fur until it came to the wound. Her hand felt the rough fur matted with blood. She felt the stickiness of the blood clotting. As she touched the wound, her hand slipped into the warm opening. He hand pressed deeper and deeper into the wound until she felt the heart. The heart was warm and beating strong. As she touched the heart it beat faster and faster, and became warmer. Andy tried to move her hand out of the wound but couldn’t. It was stuck. Her arm and hand were stuck as if the wound had closed around them. Suddenly she pulled her hand free and blood rushed out. Then she woke up. (352-3)
This episode represents the middle of Andy’s rite of passage. The wound and rushing blood symbolize menstruation, the true sign of being a woman. Andy’s hand being stuck in the wound represents being stuck in womanhood. Once a young female arrives in womanhood, it is very difficult to leave. In a sense, the young woman is stuck there. Beginning menstruation is a trial for her. Each female handles this trial in her own way.
After Charlie, Mac, Andy and her father find the deer the next morning, the fathers of the group gut it. Her father lifted the doe’s foreleg so that its head rested between his knees and the underside exposed. He sliced the deer from chest to belly to crotch. Andy began to run away. Everyone was calling for her to come back, but she was no longer answering to Andy. She was a woman and wanted to be called Andrea.
“Doe Season” is a story of a rite of passage. A rite of passage contains three major parts, the unknown, the trial, and gaining knowledge. In this story, David Kaplan clearly states those three parts. David Kaplan used symbols to carry Andy through her rite of passage into womanhood. He used darkness to symbolize the unknown because Andy didn’t know what was ahead for her in the woods. Kaplan used the shooting of the deer and the dream to symbolize the trial portion of a rite of passage. Andy wished for the deer not to suffer, she wished death upon it. The dream symbolized the entrance into womanhood–menstruation. At the end of the story, Andy changes her name to Andrea. This symbolizes that she is a woman and has completed her rite of passage.