Hunters in the Snow by Tobias Wolff Analysis
In the short story, “Hunters in the Snow”, Tobias Wolff describes a friendship amongst three individuals, Frank, Tub, and Kenny. They each have their own distinctive personalities and internal struggles. The three friends go on a trip to the woods during winter and hunt for the wildlife, throughout their journey many significant events and lessons are learned. The author utilizes indirect characterization, descriptive diction, details, foreshadow, imagery, and third person point of view in order to show the audience how the actions of Frank, Tub, and Kenny represent their characteristics of themselves and how they portray in their friendship capabilities.
The story begins with Tub waiting in the snow for his friends Kenny and Frank to pick him up for their hunting trip. Kenny almost hits Tub with his truck and Tub drops “another sandwich and a package of cookies'' while attempting to dodge the vehicle (Wolff). Wolff is incredibly direct and quick to elucidate a few characteristics of the friends. He describes Tub as a fat man, due to his name and the fact that he had cookies and a sandwich in his pocket. Additionally, he's already showing that Kenny is an immature adult and Frank is just along for the ride. As the story continues, Wolff employs descriptive details for the purpose of introducing Kenny as the leader of the friend group. We as an audience are able to see that Kenny is a bully to Tub, because he constantly makes fun of him for his weight and pushes him around and Frank joins in the fun.
The three boys take a break from hunting and sit down and eat their lunch. Tub has “one hard-boiled egg in a stick of celery, Frank has a sandwich, an apple, carrots, and a square of chocolate, and Kenny has pizza and candy bars” (Wolff). There is an extreme significance in the meals each boy is eating. Tub is insecure about his weight gain, therefore he portrays to his friends that he is eating healthy. Frank is well-balanced and has his life together. Lastly, Kenny shows that he is immature and eating like a teenager. This is an example of indirect characterization and it gives the audience and insights on the characters personalities.
The friend group finds a deer, however it runs into an area where there is no hunting allowed. Frank decides to ask the owners of the property if it's okay if they hunt for a deer that went on to their property. The owners say yes, however they did not shoot a deer, a dog and Kenny was shot. Wolff foreshadows Kenny’s death through Kenny’s statement, “You asked me how I want to die today” at the lunch break (Wolff). The death could have been prevented if they had contacted an ambulance or if they had not “taken a different turn a long way back” (Wolff). Frank and Tub claimed it would be faster if they drove Kenny to the hospital themselves, but they made several long stops and lost the directions. The quote tells the reader that they were never planning on making it to the hospital to save their friend. Which shows Tub and Frank did not care for Kenny whatsoever, maybe due to the fact that he bullied Tub and he knew Frank's deepest darkest secret.
The deepest darkest secret, Frank is a pedophile. Kenny makes jokes about “the babysitter” and “that little jailbait”, which gives the author the indication that he is having an affair with a 15 year old who is the babysitter of his children. Towards the end of the story, Frank claims to love the babysitter and has the need to leave his wife Nancy. He confesses his feelings to Tub after gaining his trust. The author uses imagery and diction to show the readers how Frank gains Tub’s trust and finds comfort in him. He gained his trust by showing that he will accept Tub during his “pig outs” and he should not feel ashamed or embarrassed to fully be himself around Frank. Described through third person point of view, Frank now knows Tub's darkest secret, which is that he killed Kenny. Therefore, he knew if he told Tub his darkest secret he could not be a threat to him, due to the Kenny situation. Frank is a master manipulator and is now the new leader of the updated friend group.
It is reasonable to deduce that Wolff uses diction, detail, narrative, and imagery to show that friendship is not always as it seems. People involved in the friendship can illustrate themselves a completely different way than what they actually are. Kenny's death showed the audience Cubs and Frank's true characteristics.