Hunters in the Snow


Tobias Wolff

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Themes and Colors
Friendship and Cruelty Theme Icon
Narcissism, Neglect, and the Dereliction of Duty Theme Icon
Secrets and Deception Theme Icon
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Hunters in the Snow, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Friendship and Cruelty

“Hunters in the Snow” is the story of a three-way friendship that is based on exclusion and harm. Tub, Frank, and Kenny are three friends who go on a hunting trip together, but from the very beginning their friendship is characterized by cruelty: at first, Frank and Kenny gang up on Tub, and then Tub and Frank align against Kenny. The story thus raises the question of whether the three men really are…

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Narcissism, Neglect, and the Dereliction of Duty

In “Hunters in the Snow,” Tub tells Frank that he doesn’t “pay attention very much,” and this description could be applied to almost all the other characters—including Tub, whom Frank scolds for thinking he is “the only person with problems.” Throughout the story, Wolff highlights the ways in which friends and family members fail to fulfill their duties to each other, and people who seem to love each other actually neglect each other, generally by…

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Secrets and Deception

In “Hunters in the Snow,” Kenny, Frank, and Tub all keep and share shameful or sensitive secrets, such as the real reason for Tub’s weight problems, or Frank’s love for his kids’ fifteen-year-old babysitter. The characters form alliances with one another by sharing these secrets, punish others by withholding secrets, and leverage secrets to gain power over others. In this way, Wolff shows that establishing intimacy through sharing secrets is risky, as…

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Man vs. Nature

“Hunters in the Snow,” a story of three men taking to the woods for a deer hunt, highlights how mankind is a threat to nature. Although the hunt itself is inherently violent, it is Kenny’s aggressive behavior at the end of the fruitless hunt that specifically showcases the way that humans treat nature with violence and aggression. However, since the hunters are constantly thwarted by and forced to submit to nature—such as when the…

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