Hunters in the Snow Essay

In Tobias Wolff’s, short story, “Hunters in the Snow”, Wolff portrays three men who, on the surface, appear to be good-natured hunting pals. However, as the story unravels, it becomes obvious that their relationship is less than congenial. Wolff illustrates the theme of betrayal and deception through the character’s selfish values, self-justified wrong doings, and enabling behavior. Wolff uses the characters dialogue and actions to exemplify their selfish values. One example of Tub’s selfish behavior is when he drops Kenny to catch himself after slipping on the ice.

Frank and Tub’s selfish behavior is shown again when they stop at the tavern to warm themselves, while neglecting Kenny and leaving him to freeze in the tailgate of the pickup. They also stop at a roadhouse to thaw out for a bit, abandoning Kenny, yet again, while Tub gluttonously shoves four stacks of pancakes into his mouth. Tub and Frank know that their actions are wrong; therefore, they blame their egocentric mannerisms on the faults of the forces around them.

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Tub justifies shooting Kenny by telling himself that it was an act of self-defense. Tub tells Frank that Kenny was going to shoot if he didn’t, first. However, it is improbable that Kenny was going to hurt Tub, as the three of them identify each other as friends. Frank justifies their selfish stops at the tavern and roadhouse by saying that they will not be any help to Kenny if they freeze from the snow and wind blowing in the hole in the windshield. Tub also defends his weight by lying about his complications with his glands.

Frank is in denial about his lust for the babysitter and rationalizes his pedophilic fetish by incorrectly comparing his situation to Romeo and Juliet. Frank and Tub also enable each other to feel better about their personal choices in life. Tub enables Frank by supporting him and accepting Frank’s lust for the babysitter as tolerable. In response, Frank forces Tub to indulge in the pancakes to feed Frank’s own satisfaction for others also having weaknesses, as well.

These examples resemble real life human behavior because no one wants to indulge in solitude; it is much easier to indulge when others are, making it seem right, consequently. The cavalier arrogance that these men possess and the effect of their words targeted at each other’s weak points make for an understanding that under these men’s simple miens lie a cruel intricacy of human nature, which is as cold as the bleak winter. In conclusion, “Hunters in the Snow”, Tobias Wolff demonstrates the theme of betrayal and deception through the character’s selfishness, self-justified wrong doings, and enabling conduct.

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