The Last Hung: Joop’s Mid-Life Crisis
In Horst Stern’s The Last Hunt, a man named Joop is portrayed as a
professional worker in a very well known bank. Outside of being a banker, Joop
enjoys to hunt wild animals. This has been a hobby of his since he was a
young boy. Throughout the story many questions are raised about Joop’s true
feelings about his job, hunting, and his life. In the beginning of the story, a
women walks in on Joop while he is staring at a picture on a wall in his office.
The women is very embarrassed because she believes he is staring at the nudity
part of the picture. This indeed is not true as the reader further examines the
reason behind the picture. By looking at the picture, Joop realizes that he is
going through a mid-life crises, which can only be resolved by exorcising
memories of his wife, the bear, and the goddess of hunting, Diana.
The solution to the first part of his mid-life crisis is to get rid of
the memories of Mari that still resided deep within his mind. He does this by
visiting the house where the majority of these memories take place. While
touring through the house he remembers all the ways that Mari resembled the
goddess of Diana.During the period that Joop was married to Mari, she
portrayed herself in a few ways as being Diana. She did this by giving the
name of “Worshipping Diana to the act of Joop kissing her.
Her skin was white except for one violet-colored bruise just under her
right collarbone; it never disappeared entirely during the hunting season and
came from the kick of her hefty weapons. It pleased her that he liked to kiss
this particular spot. She called it “Worshipping Diana” (Stern 112).
By doing this, Mari therefore implies that she believes she is the
goddess of hunting. Not only does Mari imply that she is similar to the goddess
Diana, but Joop also feels very upset about her believing that she is a goddess
and he is just one of her pawns. ” Her solemnity always frightened him, since
it seemed to suggest that his main role in her eyes was as high priest of her
own cult” (Stern 112). In this case the high priest would be the hunter Joop,
and he would be serving Mari in her own fantasies.
Joop’s departure from the house was very swift because he wanted to get
the memories of Mari behind him.
Joop climbed wearily into the car and told his chauffeur to drive . . .
Without turning around he raised a had in a gesture of farewell the woman would
be able to see through the rear window. He had not had the strength to utter
all the polite words called for upon his departure from the tower, which he knew
he would never see again. For him, Mari’s pheasant had just fallen dead at his
feet, pierced by a volley of bleak memories (117).
By leaving in such a quick pace without saying goodbye to the lady or
watching the house fade away in the distance, Joop partially exorcised the
memories of Mari. The only thing remaining that kept memories of Mari alive was
the painting hanging up in Joop’s office. That would be taken care of as soon
as Joop returned to normal work.
After leaving the house, Joop then continued on toward his next step in
overcoming the crisis. He had always struggled in his hunting times. He never
had a real clean kill to his name. When ever he went hunting with Mari, he was
not able to kill the animal on the first shot. He felt very upset that he was
not able to have a real trophy from hunting. When he was presented with the
opportunity on his trip to have a chance at killing an extremely large bear, he
jumped on it in a flash. When Joop finally arrived at the place where he was
going to kill the bear he felt as if his crisis was soon going to be over. When
the bear finally arrived and the shot rang out from Joop’s rifle, Joop realized
he once again did not kill the Bear instantly. He feels very embarrassed by
that and decides to stay on top of the shooting blind until the moon disappears.
Long before Joop has time to think all this,