Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Precisely at the center of the story, at the center of the second of three numbered sections, is the remembrance, with its attendant thrill of elation, of the sighting of Old Red, the fox who always got away. The pursuit of Old Red was a repeated ritual—analogous, perhaps, to William Faulkner’s famous hunting rituals in his short story “The Bear”—only Old Red was never caught.

In the remainder of the story, the apparent position of the old man shifts from that of the successful pursuer of wild game to that of the hunted in constant jeopardy of entrapment. While pitying young Steve for his alienation from nature, Maury realizes that his own rapport with nature involves an alienation from humankind. This is the price of the freedom he has gained:Poor boy, dead to the world and probably be that way the rest of his life. A pang of pity shot through Mister Maury and on the heels of it a gust of that black fear that occasionally shook him. It was he, not Steve, that was the queer one. The world was full of people like this boy, all of them going around with their heads so full of this and that they hardly knew what they were doing. They were all like that. There was hardly anybody—there was nobody really in the whole world like him.

The last section quickly develops and intensifies the impression of Maury as the hunted animal. As he lies in bed, his imagination plays tricks on him as it used to do in this room. The moonlight...

(The entire section is 583 words.)