Reflection on Grace Paley’s “Traveling”

Paley’s “Traveling” is a captivating look at how different lived experiences and realities can affect the way a person treats someone else. In the case of Paley’s mother, the shared understanding of the exhaustion of travel gives her the compassion to ask the woman if she can relieve some stress by holding the baby. Paley’s mother is not proud of her situation, as she can barely look the mother in the eyes. However, Paley’s mother’s autonomy as a stranger enables her to approach the situation from a fresh perspective (and also with a different level of privilege). The overarching message seems to be a recognition of different lived experiences and the way that those experiences shape situations or confrontations.

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