Hunters in the Snow by Tobias Wolff

“Hunters in the snow” is a short story by Tobias Wolff filled with tension and all sorts of conflict. Three friends, Kenny, Frank and Tub go hunting and while on a mission, we learn details about them, especially about their personality traits and moral dilemmas. Kenny, probably the most ruthless of them, shows no emotion or love for anyone or anything. His reckless driving almost costs a life his friend Tub.

He shots everything that gets in his way such as a post, a tree or the poor dog whose only crime is barking. Later on we learn that in fact, Kenny was asked to kill the dog but still, it makes no difference for the reader who is already fed up with Kenny’s

arrogant behavior. His friend Frank is one of those people who respond to how the wind is blowing. In the beginning, when he is first introduced in the story, he appears to be very close with Kenny, and plays along making fun of Tub and his eating disorder. He goes that far to even say to Tub, “You haven’t seen your own balls in ten years”. How’s that for a ‘friend’s’ talk! Apparently, he is also a cheater. He has a love affair with a fifteen-year-old girl. Unlike Kenny, he does show a moral dilemma in regard to leaving his wife for a girl with whom he is supposedly madly in love.  As the story develops, and Tub finally takes a stand and shows his teeth, Frank grows fonder of Tub and forgets about Kenny. Tub is the most appealing character in the story even though he himself is not without flaws. Moreover, he has a lot of insecurities and weaknesses. He lies to others and himself about having a problem with glands, when in fact he lacks self-discipline and simply eats too much. Gluttony is his sin but he lives in denial. When we first encounter Tub, he is like a whiny kid who complains about cold weather or having to wait. He also has a tremendous need for approval and tries to please others in order to satisfy his urge. However, when all of his attempts fail, he gets the upper hand and shoots Kenny. This puts him in charge of the new situation, but this also stains his character and puts him in a bad light.

Wolff indirectly implies that we all have a little bit of Tub, Frank or even Kenny in ourselves. We can be very self-absorbed, ignorant or obese. Another statement that he makes in his story is the importance of remembering how the power can easily be shifted depending on circumstances. Today you can be king, and tomorrow you can be at the bottom. It is important to always be a man!


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