In "Hunters in the Snow," is there a absence of love and intimacy?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The characters in "Hunters in the Snow" are supposedly friends, but show little care for each other. Kenny is wilfully abusive, Tub doesn't like the abuse but does nothing to stop it, and Frank is so deferential that he doesn't defend Tub from Kenny's insults. Each character is so self-absorbed that they don't care about the problems of the others. Even the farmer, who is indirectly responsible for Kenny being shot, doesn't seem to care much:

The man looked past Frank and tub into the gloom. "Shoot your friend, did you?"

Frank nodded.

"I did," Tub said.

"I suppose you want to use the phone."
(Wolff, "Hunters in the Snow,"

This speaks to the overall lack of compassion that each character has; at the end, when Tub and Frank admit their secrets, they connect not on a basis of mutual respect and friendship, but on the level of the secrets themselves. Each, in their own minds, thinks less of the other for their human faults, and also enjoys knowing that the other is weaker in some way than themselves. This connection is not based in love and intimacy, but selfish ego.