Ernest Hemingway has created a masterpiece of mystery in his story”The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber”. The mystery does notreveal itself to the reader until the end of the story, yet itleaves a lot to the imagination.
At the end of the storyMargaret Macomber kills her husband by accident, in order to savehim from being mauled by a large Buffalo while on a safari inAfrica. The mystery is whether or not this killing was trulyaccidental, or intentional. If it was to be consideredintentional, there would certainly have to be evidence in thestory suggesting such, with a clear motive as well. What makesthis mystery unique is that Hemingway gives the reader numerousinstances that would lead the reader to devise an acceptablemotive, yet human nature tells the reader that this killing couldnot have been intentional. From a purely objective analysis of thestory, the reader would see far more evidence supporting thetheory of an intentional killing rather than an accidental one.Order now
The clues supporting the idea that Margaret killed Francisintentionally can best be seen when observing and studying thebackground information on both Francis Macomber, and Margaretherself. (Hemingway 1402). What is also important is that Margotand Francis have very different personalities. This is clearlyseen when the narrator states, (Hemingway 1402).
With this small amount of background information, the true motivefor an intentional killing can be found. This can clearly be seenin the conversation of Francis Macomber after killing the buffalowhen he states, (Hemingway 1408. “(Hemingway 1409). Robert Wilson,the guide on the hunt, gives the reader an outside perspectiveinto this complex and troubled relationship. In response to thequote above Hemingway 1409).
Robert Wilson seems to be right in his descriptions of the couple,and their relationship throughout the story. If this is true, andnone of his presumptions about the couple are false, then he gainsmore credibility towards the end of the story. It is at this pointthat he becomes the advocate of Margot actions, despite the factthat they were intentional. It is Wilson that gives the reader thebest description of the relationship between Francis and his wife. It is his insight into Margot, however, that is the most detailed,and which seems to suggest that she might be capable of such anact.
From this astute analysis of the two, Wilson shows the readerseveral very important things. One is the fact, although somewhatmachiavellian, that over her husband. Another observation that Isomewhat important is the This is the cruelty that Wilson observesin the passage above. This, as she would soon see, was not thecase. One of the most important passages in the story occurs in themoments just before Francis and Robert Wilson go into the bushafter the buffalo.
After Margot fires the fatal shot, furtherevidence is given by Robert Wilson that supports the assertionthat the killing was intentional Hemingway 1411). Wilson, whoseems to be accurate in his assessment of the relationship, seemsa credible witness to the killing and due to these facts, hisopinion as to the motive of the killing is credible to the readeras well. . story.
From all of the evidence given in the story, and from an objectiveanalysis of the conversation and narration, it is safe to maketheassumption that the killings were indeed intentional. There issimply not enough tangible evidence given in the conversation ornarration that would suggest otherwise assertion. A CharacterAnalysis of Francis Macomber From Hemingway’s “The Short HappyLife of Francis Macomber”In Hemingway’s The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, theauthor demonstrates his undeniable ability to bring characters tolife by introducing the reader in great detail to the maincharacter, Francis Macomber, through varying literary mechanisms. The reader learns immense detail about Francis, as well as theother two primary characters, Margaret and Mr. Wilson, throughcreative description that includes each character’s thoughts,their actions, and their reactions towards the events of thestory. Francis Macomber’s interior characteristics and impressionsare revealed through such omniscient statements as:In addition, more details are revealed about the character ofFrancis through the other principal characters and even throughthe characters who play a very small role in the story (e.
g. , thegun-bearers). For example, (p 250). By means of a combination ofthis type of information, Francis Macomber’s character is changeddue to constant abuse from other characters, an inner strugglewith fear and embarrassment, and, eventually, by hatred- a deephatred for Mr. Wilson and a somewhat quieter hatred for MargaretMacomber.
An initial cause in the final changes of Francis’ personality canbe attributed to the constant abuse suffered at the hands of hiswife, and, briefly, by Mr. WilsonFor example, in p 259. Francisand Margaret have obviously reached a point of stagnation-stagnation in their feelings for each other and stagnation intheir desire for the relationship. The attention from societypress (and society people), discussed in p 237-p 238, is more thanlikely an additional driving force for Margaret as well.
Thereader gets the impression that she craves the attention, good,bad, or indifferent. Howeverhe demonstrates cowardice without fearof remorse from his wife. However, it is the remorse that hehimself, deep inside, feels, that begins to turn Mr. Macomberaround. Additionally, Mr. Wilson also contributes to thiscompounding abuse.
Even though, for the most part, Mr. Wilson’s feelings areperceivably kept within the confines of his own mind, the effectsof these thoughts still exists. To illustrate, in p 54, Mr. Wilsonis thinking to himself, “So he’s a bloody four-letter man as wellas a bloody coward.
I rather liked him too until today. ” As thereader progresses through the story, it is obvious that theabusive remarks, thoughts, and actions of Mr. Wilson, andespecially those of Margaret, are central factors in contributingto the changes that take place in the personality of FrancisMacomber. Francis finds himself struggling with fear and embarrassment fromthe onset of the story, although the details of the initial fearare revealed to the reader somewhat later. This internal strugglewith fear and embarrassment is a paramount factor in hissubsequent transformation.
Hemingway puts the reader in a positionto make decisions about the effects of the previously discussedabuse as it relates to Francis’ internal battle with fear andembarrassment. Clearly these feelings play a key role in thedevelopment of the character, but this abuse also raises a fewquestions. Is Macomber affected enough by the embarrassment andthe fear caused by the scene with the lion (p 168-p 229) to makethis final transformation? Is the incident with the lion in thebush the contributing factor to Francis’ deep-rooted changes? No,if it were that simple, Hemingway would have succeeded in creatinga rather listless story. To cite an instance, in p 89. Also, laterin the story, Mr.
Wilson contributes outwardly to Francis’feelings of embarrassment by bedding Margaret. In this capacity,Mr. Wilson causes Francis to suffer the greatest embarrassmentthat a man can endure. And then Mr. Wilson rubbed salt into thewound by answering “Topping” to Francis’ inquiry into the state ofhis previous night’s sleep (p 269).
Plainly, the incident with thelion caused an incredible fear within Francis. This feeling wascombined with multiple situations of inconceivable embarrassment,which resulted in the transformation of Francis Macomber into anew man. A final and essential contributing factor to Francis Macomber’sultimate transformation is the hatred that forms within him. Initially, the reader is given the impression that this hatred issolely intended for Mr. Wilson, the man who saved his life andthen had the boldness to bed his wife in the bastion of night. This hatred, however, is only aimed at the Mr.
Wilson because heis the most likely, the most obvious, target. It is Francis’ ownpowerlessness in respect to his wife that stops him fromrecognizing that this hatred is actually targeted towards her morethan towards Mr. Wilson. It is obvious that had the other man notbeen Mr. Wilson, it would have been someone else. Indeed, it hadbeen someone else, many times.
The reasons for the development ofthis hatred toward his wife becomes more evident in p 261-p 264:”You don’t wait long when you have an advantage, do you?””Please, let’s not talk. I’m so sleepy, darling. “”I’m going to talk. “”Don’t mind me then, because I’m going to sleep. “Not only did she leave the tent, their tent, but she sneaked intothe night to bed a man she barely knew, and she also had the nerveto come back into the tent and call Francis “darling!” To top offthe whole guilt-ridden, embarrassing and downright miserable day,she additionally refused to speak to him about what had obviouslytaken place.
Not only did she refuse to speak with him, but shechose to outright ignore him. Frankly, it is surprising that thehatred for this woman that was developing within him did not causehim to choke the soul out of her then and there! Hence, the eventsof the story cause an intense hatred for both Mr. Wilson andMargaret. This hatred is a chief element in reconstructing FrancisMacomber, in forming a man without fear of repercussion and givinghim the manhood he has needed for many years. When faced with a combination of events and personalities, a manmust decide immediately which way he will go. Francis Macomber hadto make a decision that would stay with him for the rest of hislife.
Would he continue to suffer at the hands of this abhorrentwoman? Would he continue to tolerate such behavior from his wife?Would he continue to react to her behavior in the same manner, amanner that causes men to gaze upon him with despite andrepugnation? Francis, in a sense, was given a second chance withthe lion, and it was again a life or death decision. Once again,he had to decide- would he face the lion or would he turn and run?This factor of the story is confirmed in p 237 when Francisstates, “about sex in books, many books, too many books. . . ” Herethe reader can feel Francis’ near disgust with himself. Furthermore, this also demonstrates that.
The blending of mentalabuse, embarrassment and fear, and deep hatred were responsiblefor changing the character of a boring, somewhat anesthetizedFrancis Macomber into that of a man, a man with values andfeelings and morals; a man capable of living happily ever after,regardless of the span of his life. The character FrancisMacomber, a wealthy American, and his wife, Margot, are on safariwith their English guide, Robert Wilson. Macomber wounds a lionand runs away in fear. The guide is horrified at his badsportsmanship Macomber redeems himself by killing a buffalocleanly and bravely. he faces another buffalo, a charging, badlywounded bull.
From the car where she has been watching, Margottakes aim and shoots at the charging buffalo, apparently to saveher husband’s life.