The short story, “The Doe Season”, is not simply a story about a young girl’s hunting trip with her father and friends. During the few days that Andy is on the hunting trip, she takes an incredible journey through herself. Traditionally, hunting deer is an event reserved for young men and their fathers. Yet, it is through this outing that Andy experiences a rite of passage into womanhood. All through her life Andy has identified herself as being able to relate to male figures and being more similar to her father then her mother.
Andy experiences an internal journey through the group teasing, killing of the doe, dream and the changing of how Andy views the woods. In the beginning of the story, there is emphasis on the woods always remaining the same. The woods stretch inevitably and offer a sense of security and safety. Even while hunting, the same woods lead back toward home where Andy’s mother is waiting for them. “She is there, and we are here: the thought satisfied Andy. ” (Kaplan, p 386) When Mac mentions to Andy that Canada is nearby, Andy rejects the idea. These same woods could not possibly go to a foreign country that is not part of home.
Just as Andy is emerging into a new person, the woods around her are no longer the same as they were when she originally left home. By the end of the journey, the woods are no longer a place of comfort and solace. As Andy reflects on past journeys, the family trip to the beach stands out in her mind. Andy is uncomfortable with her feminine side. Unlike her mother, Andy and her father were both nervous in the ocean. “Her mother swam and splashed with animal-like delight while her father, smiling shyly, held his white arms above the waist-deep water as if afraid to get them wet. ” (Kaplan, p. 388) Andy associates more readily with her father.
The naturalness of womanhood only makes Andy uncomfortable. After her mother’s top falls down in the ocean, Andy is embarrassed and quickly looks around to see if anyone has noticed. (Kaplan, p. 388) Yet, Andy is unconcerned if anyone has noticed how foolish her father must look in the water trying to stay dry. The “nipples like two dark eyes” (Kaplan, p. 388) symbolizes Andy’s feelings that being feminine is similar to being grotesque instead of having elegant and beautiful qualities. Even though Andy denies her female side, there is still an air of innocence in fully understanding masculinity.
The thought of camping in the same tent as Mac does not disturb Andy because she feels as though she is one of the men. Mac even seems to realize that Andy does not truly understand what it is like to be male. What little bit that Andy knows about peckers is “ain’t a real one at all. ” (Kaplan, p 389) Later, when Andy is ignorant to hog dressing a buck, it again shows that she is innocent to the rites of passage traditionally held for males. In her father’s eyes, Andy has always been more of a son then a daughter. After the joking starts about her name, Andy becomes frustrated and hurt.
“They were all looking at her, and she wanted to get away from them all, even from her father, who chose to joke with them. ” (Kaplan, p 392) She is forced to accept that even though she can relate to her father more than her mother, Andy is indeed a female and was even named Andrea. Leaving the joking behind, Andy takes a brief walk. The walk itself is symbolic of Andy’s journey into a new awareness and acceptance of feminine side. Just as the doe is vulnerable and still developing, Andy realizes for the first time how different she is then the others on the trip.
The doe death of the doe symbolizes the death of the sameness that Andy has felt all her life when relating to her father. “Later she would think, I felt the recoil, I smelled the smoke, but I don’t remember pulling the trigger. ” (Kaplan, p 393) Part of Andy did not want to accept that she was letting go of the feelings of how things were with her father. A sense of relief and sheer terror struck Andy when the doe rose again symbolizing the inner struggle Andy was experiencing on the trip as she became aware of just how different she truly was from not only Mac and Charlie but also her father.
Despite Andy’s father’s encouraging words, the group was not able to find the shot doe. Andy would later face her inner struggles face to face during the night in her dreams. No longer was she dreaming of the woods as she did on the way to hunting spots but she dreamt of the shot doe. Andy was met by the doe and took out its heart in the dream. “And then her hand pulled free, followed by a streaming rush of blood” symbolic of what happens during birth and also of menstruation cycle for women.
(Kaplan, p 396) The following morning, Andy would examine her hand to find that it “felt weak and withered” symbolizing her acceptance of being female. (Kaplan, p 396) Throughout life, the parent holds the child’s hand and guides them. Andy’s father would no longer be able to hold her hand and guide her through life. The connection that Andy felt from being so much the same as her father had dissolved when Andy killed the doe. The bond breakage between Andy and her father can be most strongly seen in the final paragraph.
As the group was “crying Andy, Andy (but that wasn’t her name, she would not longer be called that). ” (Kaplan, p 397) Andy had become more of a woman and independent through the hunting trip group interactions, killing of the doe, dream and finally through the woods themselves. Over the calls of the group, “yet louder than any of them was the wind blowing through the treetops, like the ocean where her mother floated in green water”. (Kaplan, p 397) Just as Andy was no longer the same as her father, the woods were no longer distinctly the same everywhere but had changed.