Hunters in the Snow Questions and Answers
by Tobias Wolff

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The final plot twist in "Hunters in the Snow" comes in the last two sentences of the story. Here the narrator speaks directly to the reader, giving us information the characters don’t know. How is this an appropriate conclusion to the story? What final statement is being made about the characters?

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Octavia Cordell eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The final twist of the story is the revelation that Tub and Frank had been going the wrong way for quite some time. The twist (if it is a twist) comes not so much from the information—earlier in the story, Frank says that he left the directions at the tavern they stopped at to get warm—but from the intent of the two men. The story is primarily about how emotionally distant these “friends” are. The story makes it seem like Kenny is the bully and Tub is the victim, but in truth, none of these characters are what they seem. It is only by their actions that we can guess at their true character. Tub's decision to shoot Kenny reveals him to be the most powerful personality of the three; in the same way, their decision to dawdle over getting Kenny to the hospital has nothing to do with getting warm but everything to do with a conscious decision on their part to be rid of Kenny. The two men have made a pact: as Tub says, real friends will forgive anything. They absolve each other of their mutual sins.

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bmadnick eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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"'I'm going to the hospital,' Kenny said. But he was wrong. They had taken a different turn a long way back." This ending of the story confirms our suspicions that Tub and Frank don't really care whether Kenny lives or dies. Our first clue is when the two men stop the first time to warm up. They leave Kenny in the cold truck and go in to eat, drink, and talk. When they start to tell each other secrets, we know the two of them are bonding, finally accomplishing what the hunting trip was supposed to accomplish. We know Tub and Frank don't care about Kenny at this point. After the two stop a second time, we realize that Kenny is going to die before they can get him to the hospital. What we don't know until the end is that they had headed the wrong direction from the hospital a long time ago, and they were never headed toward the hospital.   

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