Narcissism And The Dereliction Of Duty In Hunters In The Snow Written By Tobias Wolff

Narcissism and the Dereliction of Duty; those three topics proliferate the short story, “Hunters in the Snow”, written by Tobias Wolff. Hunter’s in the snow is quite evocative, I must admit. Though it is another example of depressing writing which appears to be the only revered genre in writing. Anyway, there is a good message from Wolff in “Hunters in the Snow”. Wolff presents us with a three-way relationship based on rejection and hurt. Tub, Frank, and Kenny go on a hunting trip together,sounds fun, yet from the very beginning their friendship is characterized by cruelty.

Through the story “Hunters in the Snow” Wolff features how friends and even family members can and will fail to do their duties and fulfill their obligations to those they care about. I believe Wolff proposes that the neglectful attitude of the characters is similar to the self-absorption prevalent in society, and it has dangerous, and like in his story, even deadly consequences.

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Wolff wants us to look outward, and be mindful and attentive of those we care about .

Through setting and symbolism we can see how he crafts this message. It is set during the winter in Spokane, Washington. The setting is extremely important; I would argue that this story could only happen during the winter and at places with a similar climate. Snow is an overlying symbol in “Hunters in the Snow”. The snow in the story quite aptly creates a hostile and desolate landscape that quite effectively mirrors the unfeeling and often cruel dynamic of Kenny, Frank, and Tub’s friendship.

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Before the hunt they had coordinated to meet at a place to pick up Tub at nine o’clock. However Kenny and Frank are an hour late, forcing Tub to wait in the “falling snow”. This instantly informs the reader that Tub is the odd man out, anybody who leaves their friend out in the freezing cold with snow falling is rather cruel. This situation creates a parallel between the harsh falling snow and the harsh, and even outright hostile, behavior of Tub’s “friends”.The symbol goes even further, Tub being the least nimble of the group, struggles to navigate through the snow, his shortcomings cause him to lose the others,which echoes his struggle to navigate himself with in the friendship. While trying to catch up with the other two, Tub becomes frantic and ends up bruising his shins on the hard crust of the snow. Those physical bruises mirror that of the emotional bruises left on him by Frank and Kenny, who constantly berate Tub about his weight.

Now Let’s discuss the constant battle and struggle up the totem pole within the group. In the beginning, Frank and Kenny join together against Tub, and then Frank with Tub ally themselves against Kenny. Thus the question is raised of whether they are in fact friends and not just merely “Three Hunters in the Snow”. During the course of their hunting trip, Wolff seems to suggest that their friendship is based more on aggression than affection, and that that is harmful, unfulfilling, and not a genuine friendship at all.

While the three are supposedly friends they, each one of them, mistreat the others. The men’s friendship is held together by exclusion and betrayal rather than kindness and goodwill. The story’s scenario itself, a hunting trip, emphasizes that the men’s friendship is based on harm rather than affection: they are bonding over an activity that includes trying to kill something else for fun, and in the absence of deer, they turn on one another. In addition, Kenny and Frank’s alliance against Tub illustrates how the men’s friendship rests on ridicule and disloyalty. The two men bond by calling Tub rude names, laughing at him for being overweight, and intentionally walking ahead of him, leaving him to struggle on his own through the fences and deep snow in the woods. Furthermore, although Kenny is the ringleader of this behavior, he is not its source.

This becomes clear when the men’s alliances shift and Tub and Frank gang up on Kenny. Rather than becoming kinder, their dynamic becomes even crueler, with Tub and Frank abandoning a freezing and severely wounded Kenny in the back of the pickup truck in order to eat pancakes together and chat. That situation is unfathomable to sane individuals, which is important because “Hunters in the snow is set up to make a point, it actually has a deeper message. I would also like to point out that Frank is never the odd man out, it is possible that he is quite a conniver, and may have purposefully neglected Kenny, it’s just a thought though.

Throughout the story each character is very narcissistic; they focus inwardly on themselves without any consideration for the others. They neglect important issues; pertaining to people they are supposed to care about. I see “Hunters in the Snow” as a subtle call to action. In the textbook’s little biography of Tobias Wolff, it informs us that Wolf despised what television has done to society. I believe that Tobias sees the world as becoming increasingly more individualistic in a negative way. WHich has definitely gotten worse with the explosion of social media. People aren’t interacting with others in the flesh anymore. Never have we been so connected with people, and yet never have we been so isolated. Kids do nothing but stare at their phone all day. I think Wolff’s message about life is that we need to focus on the people around us, for the limited time we have with them, and make sure their needs are met.

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Narcissism And The Dereliction Of Duty In Hunters In The Snow Written By Tobias Wolff. (2022, Jun 26). Retrieved from

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