What elements of "Hunters in the Snow" suggest that it is a serious literary work rather than merely an entertaining yarn?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Two prominent literary elements, among others, signify the literary seriousness of "Hunters in the Snow." One is the thematic ideas that Wolff develops and the other is the psychological treatment he gives the characters. Firstly, Wolff explores the issue of male bonding in a uniquely American social and cultural setting. At the start, the three friends adhere to the contemporary socio-cultural myth that men are rugged individualists for whom any show of affection is anathema. Then Kenny, the most physically fit man among the three, gets injured and Frank and Tubs fall into a period of male bonding, which Wolff carries to its logically illogical extreme as they would rather neglect Kenny's potentially fatal wound than give up their prized moment of affectionate male bonding.

Secondly, rather than tell the tale as an action-focused or behavior-focused story, Wolff tells it as a psychological study in which the emotional and cognitive reasons and motivations for the men's behaviors are reveale. For instance, Frank is suddenly more open to male bonding with Tubs because of his insecurities and guilt resulting his marital infedelities--and perhaps also because of a sense of psychological liberation since Kenny, the alpha male of the group, is injured and out of the way.