ERNEST HEMINGWAY. The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber. 5. “Here’s to the lion,” he said. “I can’t ever thank you for what you did.” able wash basin. The Ernest Hemingway short story The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber examines these questions within the scope of a few days in a disastrous African. Hemingway introduces the three principal characters, Francis Macomber, his wife Margot, and their safari guide Richard Wilson, over cocktails.
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Hemingway was the consummate sportsman; few others in American history, with the possible exception of Teddy Roosevelt, have come to symbolize with such consistency the spirit of the outdoorsman. Their solitude is almost always interrupted, and their ruggedness almost hemngway complemented by sensitivity and aesthetic sensibility. Its hero, Francis Macomber, is anything but the consummate sportsman. He is inept and somewhat cowardly, but Hemingway portrays him with sympathy, revealing the anxiety and tragedy that such narrow definitions of manhood can produce.
Ernest Hemingway is one of the most famous American writers of the twentieth century. His rugged lifestyle and terse, penetrating prose have inspired generations of imitators.
As much as for his writing, he is known for his adventurous personality and love of the outdoors. He was an avid fisherman and hunter, a firsthand witness of many wars, and a bullfighting aficionado. He was born in in Ernesst Park, Illinois, where he was raised. His childhood experiences in the woods of Michigan, where his family owned a summer home, contributed to several of his most famous stories which feature the character Nick Adams.
Many attribute his terse writing style to his experience as a journalist. Hemingway was an ambulance driver in Italy during World War I and received shrapnel wounds on his legs. He married for the first time in — the first of four trips to the altar—and returned to Europe to begin his career as a writer of fiction.
A memoir of sorts was published in as A Moveable Feastin which he related lif of his early experiences in Paris during the s when the city was a haven for American expatriate artists and writers.
Hemingway and his cohorts, F. Though primarily known as a writer of fiction, he continued throughout his life to function as a journalist, covering several wars, including the Greco-Turkish War in and the Spanish Civil War from Inhe served as a reporter and paramilitary aide during tbe liberation of France.
He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature but did not attend the ceremony to accept the prize. Inafter suffering a mental breakdown, he entered the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, to undergo electro-shock therapy. He committed suicide in in Ketchum, Idaho. The Macombers are a wealthy and socially prominent American couple in Africa on a safari. Wilson is a professional hunter, paid to guide their adventures. This topic appears to cause them some discomfort, and soon the source of their discomfort is revealed: Od is embarrassed about it, and Wilson tries to reassure him.
Wilson actually has little respect for Macomber, but hides this fact. Margot, however, makes several sarcastic references to the incident. Later shodt afternoon Francis and Wilson go hunting again, and Francis shows skill in shooting an impala. He is still ashamed of having shown cowardice when confronting the hap;y, though. The trio set out in their car and stop happu they spot a lion.
Macomber gets out of the car, still frightened, but he fires three shots, two of which find their mark. The lion bounds away, and Macomber and Wilson follow him, although Macomber is reluctant to kill the beast.
Wilson volunteers to take the lead. As they draw near to the lion, the animal charges and Macomber runs in terror. Wilson shoots and kills the lion.
After the men return to the car, Margot kisses Wilson. Macomber perceives that his wife has lost all respect for him. This signals new trouble in their marriage; they have known trouble previously, but their marriage has endured for eleven years despite their problems.
Macomber finally hsort asleep. She returns after a couple of hours, and it is apparent that Margot, who has a history of infidelity, has been with Wilson.
The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber by Ernest Hemingway
At breakfast it is equally obvious to Wilson that Macomber knows this. Wilson feels no remorse, however; he believes Macomber has driven Margot to him. After breakfast the Macombers and Wilson set out to hunt buffalo. He kills the biggest of the three that the hunters encounter, and finishes off another one that Wilson has wounded.
The experience thrills Macomber and instills a new confidence in him. Margot points out, however, that the hunters have pursued the buffalo from their car, something that is not only unsportsmanlike but illegal. Margot appears to feel threatened by the change in her husband.
Before they have much time for contemplation, they must go after the third buffalo, which has been wounded. Wilson outlines for Macomber the best liff with which to kill the buffalo. The animal comes charging out of the bush and Macomber stands firm, shooting, until the buffalo is nearly upon him. At that instant Macomber is shot in the head by his wife and killed instantly.
Francis Macomber is a man of enough wealth that he can afford a private, guided hunting trip in Africa. He is a man of questionable courage who is.
Wilson is what Macomber pretends to be—a hunter and, at least in the eyes of Margot Macomber, a man. Macomber tries to rectify this by standing his ground before a charging buffalo.
Just as he takes aim, however, he is felled by a gunshot from his wife. She seems much more interested in flirting with their guide, Robert Wilson, than in encouraging her husband.
In fact, she is brazen and unabashed about grancis sexual dalliance with Wilson and taunts pf husband with it.
On one hand, Margot is fashionable and presents herself well. She shoots and kills her husband just as he is standing his ground in a moment of danger, but the hxppy is left to consider whether this final act is one of concern that arises from love or pity, or of convenience that arises from hate and disdain.
That Margot is spoiled is certain. Whether she shhort a cold-blooded murderer has been the subject of critical debate for decades. He is also focused, cool, and analytical, even while facing the extreme danger of the hunt. When Macomber wounds a lion but does not kill it, Wilson insists that they go into the brush to find and kill it, in spite of the dangers presented by tracking a wounded, and therefore crazed, lion.
He is the epitome of a manhood that Francis Macomber lacks but Margaret Macomber desires. After Wilson sleeps with her and realizes that Mr. His purpose is to provide Macomber with the illusion thf being a th sportsman himself, a master over nature like Wilson. Nevertheless, it is Wilson who remains in control of the hunt, a fact demonstrated when it is revealed that Wilson is the only one who can speak to the Macombers in their own language.
The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber
Francis Macomber and his wife are on a hunting expedition in Africa. Their guide is Robert Wilson. Macomber is eager to impress his wife, whom he sees as attracted to Wilson.
However, Macomber is not the same kind of man Wilson is. He is not a hunter by trade or by nature, and his struggle to overcome this difference results in his death. The story francsi an examination of whether it takes more courage to face down the lion or to walk away.
The question becomes one of how accidental an accident of this kind can be. In other words, the story asks whether it is really fate or chance-considering that Margot Macomber is hppy with a gun and an unskilled shot. Intimately connected with the theme of fate and chance is guilt and innocence. The reader must decide if Margaret Macomber shot her husband on purpose or if it was indeed an accident.
If she has not shot him on purpose, then the act becomes a matter hemnigway chance or fate. If her action was intentional, however, then she is guilty of murder. A lesser theme in the work is that of survival in the wilderness.
The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber |
The Macombers, wealthy urban people, would not be able to survive alone in the wilderness, so they hire a guide to help them with their hunt. Ironically, the presence of a guide does not protect Francis Macomber but compels him to assume a persona of bravado that leads him to his death.
Macomber struggles with his position within the wilderness, wondering if it is more honorable to be like Wilson or to heed his instinct for self-preservation by fleeing from wounded animals. What kind of men are Macomber and Wilson, and why does one survive while the other dies? The story examines whether masculinity is a function of courage or of appearance.
If Margot favors Wilson, does that make him more masculine than Macomber? Complicating this question is the fact that Margot becomes uneasy when her husband becomes aggressive during the hunt. Margot herself represents some conflicting ideas about femininity. In the characters of Robert Wilson and Francis Macomber, Hemingway presents two different versions of the conflict of man against nature. This difference leads to another conflict, that of man against man, or Macomber versus Wilson.
Another essential conflict in this story is exemplified by the imperfect marriage of the Macombers, in which Margot seems perpetually dissatisfied and Francis unable to live up to her expectations of him.
Macomber have come on a hunting expedition, led by Robert Wilson. The hunting expedition ends in tragedy when Mr. Macomber stands his ground before a charging buffalo and is shot by his wife. A great deal of symbolism contributes to the meaning of this story. The dichotomy of camp and savanna serves as a symbol of the differences that exist between Macomber and Robert Wilson.
To leave the camp is to leave the world of comfort and luxury that the Macombers normally enjoy. The lion and the buffalo, representations of nature itself in all its brutal force, also come to symbolize the differences in courage and manhood that exist between Macomber and Wilson. Similarly, the guns themselves operate as symbols of manhood.