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Commentary - The Short and Happy Life of Francis Macomber

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The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber Summary Francis Macomber became the centre of humiliation after displaying his cowardice in front of his wife, Margot, and the Safari hunter, Robert Wilson. The three had gone to hunt down a lion from which Macomber had fled with fright while Wilson had shot it. As a result, Margot even slept with Wilson, whom she considered a better man, that very night. After resolving his actions, in order to demonstrate his bravery, Macomber managed to shoot three buffaloes the next day and stood ground while facing a charging beast. Just as he was enjoying his moment of becoming a man, Margot shot him in his head either because she was trying to protect him or she loathed her husband transforming into a powerful man. That explained why Francis Macomber had a happy but a very short life. Context * Third person omniscient narrator * Unbiased view of each character - Their actions and reactions; contrasting and complex emotions, even those of an animal * Reveals important facts which cannot be done so with a narrow-minded first person view * Alternation of narrative - Further insights into thoughts and personality of the characters Lion: "...the lion looked huge...his shoulders heavy, his barrel of a body bulking smoothly...he saw a man figure detach itself from it and he turned his heavy head and swung away...felt the slam of a .30-06 220?grain solid bullet that bit his flank and ripped in sudden hot scalding nausea through his stomach." ...read more.


"She was an extremely handsome and well-kept woman of the beauty and social position which had, five years before, commanded five thousand dollars as the price of endorsing, with photographs, a beauty product which she had never used." Margot abhorred her husband's cowardice and using it as an advantage, cheated on him as a punishment by kissing Robert Wilson, the English hunting guide and even sleeping with him. "Margot was too beautiful for Macomber to divorce her and Macomber had too much money." Her infidelity and insults towards Macomber, which had also occurred even before the safari, supported the fact that readers were to dislike her. However, when Macomber metamorphosed into a brave man, she feared that she would lose the power and dominance over him. The very reason was the cause of her husband's murder. The other reason is to protect him from the charging buffalo. When Macomber was being praised by Wilson, she said with jealousy, "You're both talking rot. Just because you've chased some helpless animals in a motor car you talk like heroes." "You've gotten awfully brave, awfully suddenly," she said contemptuously, but her contempt was not secure. She was very afraid of something. Robert Wilson - A character the reader gets closest to. A rugged, handsome English hunting guide. In contrast to Macomber, he is full of experience and has seen lots of men entering manhood during the hunts on the African safari. ...read more.


Macomber has lacked courage by fleeing from the lion as well as repeating his humiliation. Coming of Age - Macomber gaining courage and power when he discovers true manhood in hunting rather than in wealth. Women and Femininity - The only female character in the story, Margot Macomber, is presented as a mystery; whether her intentions are pitiful or not, or if she has killed Francis "accidentally." Still, her beauty and wits which lead to her power and dominance over her husband is a destruction and brings harm to Francis' masculinity. Violence * Physical - Wilson threatens the servants with beatings thinking they would prefer punishment rather than losing money; Hunting down buffaloes from a car; Margot shooting Macomber in the head like hunting down a beast. * Psychological - Margot tormenting her husband with her insults and infidelity. Marriage - Margot's beauty and Macomber's wealth - Dispute between wife and husband - Margot begins to sleep with other men but Macomber dares not anger her and at the same time, Margot realizes his fear to lose her. Conclusion ?The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber? is one of Ernest Hemmingway's short stories in which the protagonist, Francis Macomber, becomes a man which, according to Hemmingway, can be gained by hunting down fierce wild animals. The story has a depressing content, yet, is a very realistic and captivating portrayal of human nature; illusions can be shattered by the shock of reality (demonstrated by immediate end of Francis Macomber's happy life brought about by his jealous wife, Margot). ...read more.

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