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.
” Wilson: “Hope the silly beggar doesn’t take a notion to blow the back of my head off. Women are a nuisance on safari.” An initiation (passage of rite) story in which Macomber realizes that manhood cannot be achieved with wealth and possession but only with overcoming dangers and challenging nature sufferings, in this case, hunting; killing threatening wild beasts on the African safari. Setting African safari – A dangerous area where tourists enjoy hunting in order to display their strength and courage as men; Irony for Francis Macomber. These tourists are mostly white men (Americans) who have come to invade the territory of the African wildlife – racism. Familiarity of the setting since Hemmingway himself went on a safari around 1935-36. An American couple away from the luxuries and conveniences of American life, facing a beautiful foreign landscape full of dangers and threats. Plot Conflict: Francis Macomber’s humiliation for fleeing from the lion – Reader abhors Macomber’s cowardice, agreeing with Margot. Climax: Macomber’s recollection of the embarrassing moment, negation of himself and his resolve to change – Reader sympathizes with him while despising Margot. Resolution: Macomber’s accession to manhood interrupted by Margot – Reader admires Macomber but immediately gets shocked by his murder by Margot: Daydreams Vs Shock of reality; the hunter becomes the prey. Characters Francis Macomber – Protagonist of the story. A wealthy 35 year old American on a hunt with his wife and an English guide on the African safari. At first, he was seen as a coward. His fear was evident by the way he reacted to his insulting wife who he considered a beauty since he was not courageous enough to chase other beautiful young girls. This became very obvious during the lion chase. Upon hearing the lion roaring at night: “.there was no one to tell he was afraid.” Giving excuses not to confront the lion: “Can’t we sent the beaters?”, “What about the gun-bearers?”, “Why not leave him there?”; He was “trembling.a pitiful look on his face.” Facing the lion charging at the party: “The next thing he knew, he was running; running.in panic.toward the stream.” Macomber seems to be on the safari just because hunting is what men usually do but not because of he wants to. However, he undergoes a radical change from a coward ‘American-boy’ to a brave ‘man’ when he stands ground against a charging buffalo. At that moment, he finds pleasure and strongly believes that his life will change; there is a shift in power from his harassing wife, Margot Macomber, to him. “I feel absolutely different.” “I’d like to try another lion. I’m really not afraid of them now.” “Macomber had stood solid and shot for the nose.hitting the heavy horns, splintering and chipping them like hitting a slate roof.” Only when Macomber had finally reached the climax (manhood) of his life, he died at the hands of his wife. Margaret Margot Macomber – Can be considered the antagonist of the story unless the reader sympathizes with her. A beautiful American woman married to Francis Macomber. She was a vicious, selfish, scheming, cold-hearted woman who had married Macomber only because of his money. “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. Despite his admirable character, he is seen to be a womanizer as he usually sleeps with his clients’ wives, even Mrs. Macomber. Still, he remained as a unique, detached character who made clever observations of the American couple, acting as a narrator occasionally. Towards the end of the story, his view that Mrs. Macomber was a cruel yet attractive woman did not change, but he saw Francis’s entry into manhood. He also had a clear understanding why Margot had killed her husband. “Why didn’t you poison him? That’s what they do in England.” Literary Devices Foreshadowing – The title presents the reader with the knowledge that he is about to witness a certain event of the protagonist which is pleasurable but short. The setting, the wild African safari, indicates that the Francis is about to undergo the challenge of the landscape and its dangerous beasts. Style – Vocabulary and sentence structure is simple, Brief description and focus on dialogues – Lively and refreshing. Hemmingway used the ‘theory of omission’ so that readers can interpret the partial facts that he has written. Irony Fear: Macomber’s cowardice is shifted to Margot when he managed to bring down the buffalo; Margot’s power and dominance is, in turn, lost to Macomber. Predator becomes prey: Macomber hunting lion to demonstrate his courage; Lion chases him displaying his cowardice, Macomber shooting the buffalo to show his bravery; Margot kills him in fear of his confidence. Margot looks down on the men for shooting buffaloes from the car and yet, she kills Macomber from the car herself. Symbolism Car Francis Macomber was sitting at the front seat before he displayed his cowardice, his position was shifted to the rear seat, showing how much his status had sunk. The same thing happened to Margot after she realized that her husband had become a dominant, powerful figure. Associated with fear – an escape route from the threats of the African beasts Animals – Similarity to their human hunters: Macomber fled like a ‘rabbit’ when he faced the ‘lion,’ which was killed despite being the fierce king of the African plains. Macomber, too, was shot dead when he became a brave figure by bringing down a charging ‘buffalo’ (indication of achieving manhood), resembling the lion. Guns – Manliness, Courage, Respect, Survival Robert Wilson has ‘machine-gunner’s eyes’ – manly and courageous Francis Macomber is trembling while he holds his gun – coward Themes Flaws of the upper-class American society – Wilson’s racist view of the Macombers is also Hemmingway’s point of view. He thinks they are ‘damned strange people.’ He describes Francis Macomber as an “American boy-men” (a man acting like a boy) and Margot Macomber as ‘the hardest, the cruelest, the most predatory and the most attractive and their men have softened or gone to pieces nervously as they have hardened. seen enough of their damn terrorism’ (sexual attraction of American women but is disgusted with their infidelity). Men and Masculinity (Courage) – Men prove their masculinity by hunting down ferocious wild animals; Francis Macomber’s initial boyish characteristic (coward and weak) is a contrast to a manly, respectful one of Robert Wilson (courageous and strong). Courage is intertwined with masculinity and it is the reason to pay one respect and self-worth. 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).