Style and Technique
Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 406
The most noticeable feature of “Hunting Season” is its imagery. Virtually every detail in the story focuses the reader’s attention on the hunt, which Greenberg uses as an ironic symbol of the mother’s pursuit of the child whom she must release. The literal presence of hunters in the woods near the home provides the most significant sign of the dangerous environment outside the warmth and security of the home, which is clearly the domain in which the mother is supreme. The “world of rape and murder” that the mother sees when she ventures out after her son is really there: The land has been ravaged by miners, and the hunters seek to destroy the living creatures that inhabit the mountainous region.
When she dashes out to follow her son, the mother herself becomes a hunter, her son the prey. Searching for him, she “nosed the wind like an animal.” A noise prompts her to ask herself “Was that his cry?” When she spots his jacket, she begins “tracking” him “warily,” until she finally realizes that she is simply “a middle-aged huntress.” Her action—backtracking to avoid his seeing her, treading carefully so as not to make noise, reinforce this portrait. Greenberg also suggests the nature of this pursuit in her description of the boy, who appears with the characteristics of the wary animal: “He put his head up,” when stopping on his trek toward the creek, “reading the air for something.”
More subtle is Greenberg’s handling of point of view. The opening paragraphs give the reader a glimpse into the minds of both characters: the mother realizing that she is being a bit overprotective, the son patiently enduring the preparations that his mother makes him undergo before venturing into the forest. When the boy leaves the house, however, the reader is forced to follow the story only from within the consciousness of the mother. This technique heightens the sense of suspense that characterizes the mother’s pursuit of her son: Will he be safe? Will he be killed by hunters? Will he fall into the creek and drown? The realization that the mother is actually intruding on the boy’s privacy and may actually hinder his maturation is made particularly poignant by Greenberg’s decision to have the story seen through the eyes of the woman who must make a crucial decision not to interfere if her son is to grow to manhood.