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The short happy life of francis macombe

The intentional death of francis macomber

The Intentional Death of Francis Macomber

Ernest Hemingway has created a masterpiece of mystery in his story

"The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber". The mystery does not

reveal itself to the reader until the end of the story, yet it

leaves a lot to the imagination. At the end of the story

Margaret Macomber kills her husband by accident, in order to save

him from being mauled by a large Buffalo while on a safari in

Africa. The mystery is whether or not this killing was truly

accidental, or intentional. If it was to be considered

intentional, there would certainly have to be evidence in the

story suggesting such, with a clear motive as well. What makes

this mystery unique is that Hemingway gives the reader numerous

instances that would lead the reader to devise an acceptable

motive, yet human nature tells the reader that this killing could

not have been intentional. From a purely objective analysis of the

story, the reader would see far more evidence supporting the

theory of an intentional killing rather than an accidental one.

The clues supporting the idea that Margaret killed Francis

intentionally can best be seen when observing and studying the

background information on both Francis Macomber, and Margaret

herself. (Hemingway 1402). What is also important is that Margot

and Francis have very different personalities. This is clearly

seen when the narrator states, (Hemingway 1402).

With this small amount of background information, the true motive

for an intentional killing can be found. This can clearly be seen

in the conversation of Francis Macomber after killing the buffalo

when he states, (Hemingway 1408. "(Hemingway 1409). Robert Wilson,

the guide on the hunt, gives the reader an outside perspective

into this complex and troubled relationship. In response to the

quote 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, and

none of his presumptions about the couple are false, then he gains

more credibility towards the end of the story. It is at this point

that he becomes the advocate of Margot actions, despite the fact

that they were intentional. It is Wilson that gives the reader the

best 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 an


*From this astute analysis of the two, Wilson shows the reader

several very important things. One is the fact, although somewhat

machiavellian, that over her husband. Another observation that I

somewhat important is the This is the cruelty that Wilson observes

in the passage above.This, as she would soon see, was not the


One of the most important passages in the story occurs in the

moments just before Francis and Robert Wilson go into the bush

after the buffalo. After Margot fires the fatal shot, further

evidence is given by Robert Wilson that supports the assertion

that the killing was intentional Hemingway 1411). Wilson, who

seems to be accurate in his assessment of the relationship, seems

a credible witness to the killing and due to these facts, his

opinion as to the motive of the killing is credible to the reader

as well.. story.

*From all of the evidence given in the story, and from an objective

analysis of the conversation and narration, it is safe to makethe

assumption that the killings were indeed intentional. There is

simply not enough tangible evidence given in the conversation or

narration that would suggest otherwise assertion. A Character

Analysis of Francis Macomber From Hemingway's "The Short Happy

Life of Francis Macomber"

In Hemingway's The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, the

author demonstrates his undeniable ability to bring characters to

life by introducing the reader in great detail to the main

character, Francis Macomber, through varying literary mechanisms.

The reader learns immense detail about Francis, as well as the

other two primary characters, Margaret and Mr.Wilson, through

creative description that includes each character's thoughts,

their actions, and their reactions towards the events of the

story. Francis Macomber's interior characteristics and impressions

are revealed through such omniscient statements as:

In addition, more details are revealed about the character of

Francis through the other principal characters and even through

the characters who play a very small role in the story (e.g., the

gun-bearers). For example, (p 250). By means of a combination of

this type of information, Francis Macomber's character is changed

due to constant abuse from other characters, an inner struggle

with fear and embarrassment, and, eventually, by hatred- a deep

hatred for Mr. Wilson and a somewhat quieter hatred for Margaret


An initial cause in the final changes of Francis' personality can

be attributed to the constant abuse suffered at the hands of his

wife, and, briefly, by Mr. WilsonFor example, in p 259. Francis

and Margaret have obviously reached a point of stagnation-

stagnation in their feelings for each other and stagnation in

their desire for the relationship. The attention from society

press (and society people), discussed in p 237-p 238, is more than

likely an additional driving force for Margaret as well. The

reader gets the impression that she craves the attention, good,

bad, or indifferent. Howeverhe demonstrates cowardice without fear

of remorse from his wife. However, it is the remorse that he

himself, deep inside, feels, that begins to turn Mr. Macomber

around. Additionally, Mr. Wilson also contributes to this

compounding abuse.

Even though, for the most part, Mr. Wilson's feelings are

perceivably kept within the confines of his own mind, the effects

of these thoughts still exists. To illustrate, in p 54, Mr. Wilson

is thinking to himself, "So he's a bloody four-letter man as well

as a bloody coward. I rather liked him too until today." As the

reader progresses through the story, it is obvious that the

abusive remarks, thoughts, and actions of Mr. Wilson, and

especially those of Margaret, are central factors in contributing

to the changes that take place in the personality of Francis


Francis finds himself struggling with fear and embarrassment from

the onset of the story, although the details of the initial fear

are revealed to the reader somewhat later. This internal struggle

with fear and embarrassment is a paramount factor in his

subsequent transformation. Hemingway puts the reader in a position

to make decisions about the effects of the previously discussed

abuse as it relates to Francis' internal battle with fear and

embarrassment. Clearly these feelings play a key role in the

development of the character, but this abuse also raises a few

questions. Is Macomber affected enough by the embarrassment and

the fear caused by the scene with the lion (p 168-p 229) to make

this final transformation? Is the incident with the lion in the

bush the contributing factor to Francis' deep-rooted changes? No,

if it were that simple, Hemingway would have succeeded in creating

a rather listless story. To cite an instance, in p 89. Also, later

in 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 embarrassment

that a man can endure. And then Mr. Wilson rubbed salt into the

wound by answering "Topping" to Francis' inquiry into the state of

his previous night's sleep (p 269). Plainly, the incident with the

lion caused an incredible fear within Francis. This feeling was

combined with multiple situations of inconceivable embarrassment,

which resulted in the transformation of Francis Macomber into a

new man.

A final and essential contributing factor to Francis Macomber's

ultimate transformation is the hatred that forms within him.

Initially, the reader is given the impression that this hatred is

solely intended for Mr. Wilson, the man who saved his life and

then had the boldness to bed his wife in the bastion of night.

This hatred, however, is only aimed at the Mr. Wilson because he

is the most likely, the most obvious, target. It is Francis' own

powerlessness in respect to his wife that stops him from

recognizing that this hatred is actually targeted towards her more

than towards Mr. Wilson. It is obvious that had the other man not

been Mr. Wilson, it would have been someone else. Indeed, it had

been someone else, many times. The reasons for the development of

this 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 into

the night to bed a man she barely knew, and she also had the nerve

to come back into the tent and call Francis "darling!" To top off

the whole guilt-ridden, embarrassing and downright miserable day,

she additionally refused to speak to him about what had obviously

taken place. Not only did she refuse to speak with him, but she

chose to outright ignore him. Frankly, it is surprising that the

hatred for this woman that was developing within him did not cause

him to choke the soul out of her then and there! Hence, the events

of the story cause an intense hatred for both Mr. Wilson and

Margaret. This hatred is a chief element in reconstructing Francis

Macomber, in forming a man without fear of repercussion and giving

him the manhood he has needed for many years.

When faced with a combination of events and personalities, a man

must decide immediately which way he will go. Francis Macomber had

to make a decision that would stay with him for the rest of his

life. Would he continue to suffer at the hands of this abhorrent

woman? Would he continue to tolerate such behavior from his wife?

Would he continue to react to her behavior in the same manner, a

manner that causes men to gaze upon him with despite and

repugnation? Francis, in a sense, was given a second chance with

the 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 Francis

states, "about sex in books, many books, too many books..." Here

the reader can feel Francis' near disgust with himself.

Furthermore, this also demonstrates that. The blending of mental

abuse, embarrassment and fear, and deep hatred were responsible

for changing the character of a boring, somewhat anesthetized

Francis Macomber into that of a man, a man with values and

feelings and morals; a man capable of living happily ever after,

regardless of the span of his life. The character Francis

Macomber, a wealthy American, and his wife, Margot, are on safari

with their English guide, Robert Wilson. Macomber wounds a lion

and runs away in fear. The guide is horrified at his bad

sportsmanship Macomber redeems himself by killing a buffalo

cleanly and bravely. he faces another buffalo, a charging, badly

wounded bull. From the car where she has been watching, Margot

takes aim and shoots at the charging buffalo, apparently to save

her husband's life

Word Count: 1889

Source: Essay UK -

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