Indefinable Motives - A revised essay on the short story "Hunters in the Snow" - BY: Tobias Wolff

Essay by z71stepside2001College, Undergraduate February 2003

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Indefinable Motives

"Hunters in the Snow", a compelling story, gives readers the opportunity of exploring the author's pessimistic views while enjoying his humor. An open-minded reader is likely to learn from the author's experiences. Tobias Wolff leaves readers pondering as he not only chooses the most pessimistic turn of events, but closes this writing with a dismal ending. "Wolff's works are often humorous and piercing exposes of hypocrisy; his characters are generally failures, people with unfulfilled hopes whose loneliness leads them to behave dishonorably" (Ross 445). The dishonorable behavior of his characters is no surprise to Wolff as he explains that he spends the time necessary to get to know them. "He has said, in interviews, that he needs time to get to know his characters but that the finished story no longer holds any surprises for him"(Branam 2505). "For the reader, the result is full of surprises, insights, humor, and other line-by-line rewards, particularly in character portrayal and style" (Branam 2505).

The questionable motives and misunderstandings of the characters are reflections of Tobias Wolff's style. There are several instances that leave the reader searching for reason and motive. Does Tub shoot Kenny in fear, or because of a sudden outburst Kenny caused from taunting him all day? On the way to the hospital, Tub and Frank take their time and even leave Kenny in the back of the truck bed freezing to death with a gun shot wound to his abdomen. The last action in the story is about Frank taking a different turn away from the hospital, the opposite direction they are supposed to be traveling. In this case, Kenny never arrives at the hospital. Was Kenny given a fair chance to live, or were Frank and Tub thoughtless in their actions?

The questionable characters...