Tobias Wolff is a writer known for his memoirs and realistic short stories. “Hunters in the Snow” is a story about three friends, Tub, Frank, and Kenny, who go hunting in the snow. Wolff writes about humanity through the friendship of the three friends and the events they go through. In the beginning of the story is Tub, he is standing on the sidewalk. A truck comes around the corner, in the truck is Kenny, the driver, and Frank. The trio heads towards the woods where Kenny wanted to hunt.
Crossing through the fences, Tub has trouble going through but Frank and Kenny offer him no help at all.
On the way back, they notice obvious deer trails that lead into a no hunting zone. After getting permission from the owner, they followed the tracks but it ends in failure. Kenny began shooting in frustration at the post, the tree, and the dog. When Kenny points to Tub, Tub shoots him first out of fear.
They take him back to the owner’s house to call the ambulance. Frank finds out all the ambulances are out and they must drive to the hospital. Tub writes down the directions and the guys place Kenny in the truck bed with blankets.
Frank and Tub stop twice to warm themselves. When they get back and continue, Kenny says “I’m going to the hospital” (99). However, they had taken a wrong turn a long way back in the opposite direction of the hospital (86-99). The first to be introduced in the story is the protagonist Tub. Although the story is in 3rd person, the point of view is focused on him. The way Wolff writes, the readers will instantly sympathize for Tub. He is the one waiting in the cold, has a medical condition, and the target of insults from his friends.
Tub is a nice person and a good friend; he used to stick up for Frank. Tub cried when he shot Kenny, overcome by worry and guilt. Also, when Frank spilled his secret to Tub, Tub supported him. On the contrary, his friends make fun of him and his health. His low self-esteem and disrespect from his friends pushes him to stand up to them. Frank and Tub apologize to each other and confess their secrets to one another. Tub admits that his weight problem is not his gland but because he is a glutton. This is hinted at when Tub scarfs down two sandwiches and cookies when they were hunting.
Through the story, Tub gained confidence to confront his friends and the courage to reveal his secret (86-99). The mysterious and calm man of the trio is Frank, a protagonist. He is first introduced sitting in the truck while picking up Tub. Frank is laid-back, yet joins with Kenny to insult Tub. Though later, Frank apologizes to Tub. When Tub tells him his secret, Frank is supportive and buys him four plates of pancakes. Frank believes in letting nature run its course and not fight against it. After losing the deer, Frank calms Kenny saying “Relax […] You can’t hurry nature.
If we’re meant to get that deer, we’ll get it. If we’re not, we won’t” (89). Contradictory to his personality is his wedding ring, a gold ring with an “F” in diamonds. When they begin hunting, Kenny hints about a certain babysitter, which aggravates Frank. When he and Tub stop to warm themselves, Frank exposes his secret that he is having an affair with his fifteen-year-old babysitter. He says with amazement that she has opened up new worlds to him, the cause of his hippie personality. Frank commits the crime of lust; however, he takes into consideration of his wife and children if he divorces.
Frank is torn between his secret lover and family, but gains a trustworthy friend on his side to help him through it (86-97). The leader of the gang is Kenny. He drives his car, picks the hunting ground, and does what he wants. Kenny’s personality is uncaring, rude, and hot headed. At the beginning, he almost runs over Tub and insults him constantly. Also, Kenny hints at Frank’s secret and taunts him about it. His role in the story is not the antagonist but a catalyst. Kenny’s rudeness tests Tub’s patience and pushes Frank to reveal his secret.
Although Kenny does not keep secrets very well, he keeps secrets of his own. He did not tell his friends that he was told to kill the dog. It was a joke to him, but when he pointed his gun to Tub, Tub shot him in defense. After being wounded, Kenny is taken in the truck bed and covered in blankets. In pain, Kenny is obedient, doing whatever Frank says. The blankets keep on bunching towards the tailgate so Frank and Tub take the blankets for their own use. Kenny is left in cold, believing that they are headed towards the hospital.
However, they had taken a wrong turn way back. At this point, the readers will turn their sympathy to Kenny. The arrogant man was rude to his friends; however, after he was shot he became helpless and had no choice but to obey them (86-99). Humanity was shown through the friendship of three men named Tub, Frank, and Kenny. Each man had a different personality yet all held their own troubles. The trip showed a change in behavior in each man. The story “Hunters in the Snow” is a fantastic and interesting story, filled with surprising twist and turns with each page.
Wolff, Tobias. “Hunters in the Snow.” Perrine’s Literature: Structure, Sound and Sense. Ed. Thomas R. Arp and Greg Johnson. 10th ed. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2009. 86-99.
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