The overarching theme I noticed in Ford’s “Winterkill” is the feeling of disappointment, and how we as humans are able to come to terms with these frustrations. That disappointment, while bitter, becomes a turning point. I liked how Ford played the two major episodes of disappointment off of each other; Nola’s grand story of love is about her husband and another woman, while Troy’s big catch is nothing but a waterlogged dear carcass.
These events bring up an issue for the narrator: is it better to say the truth despite the suffering it will incur, or to lie and prevent suffering? After seeing his friend break down over the deer (which is really a culmination of all of the tragedies in his life, namely his frustration with his disability), he decides that it is better to lie. However, at the end of the story, we find the Les the narrator alone while Nola and Troy, both having experienced huge discouragement, are finding a connection with each other. Perhaps Ford is making a commentary on setbacks and frustration. Avoiding the pain that comes with being let down in life provides a momentary relief, but does not help to form the human connections that occur as a result of these experiences.