“The Short Happy Life by Francis Macomber”

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“The Short Happy Life by Francis Macomber”

Plot Summary

The short story “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” unfolds with Francis Macomber, his wife, Margaret (referred in the short story as Margot), and Robert Wilson; a professional hunter paid to guide them in their adventure in an African safari (tour). They begin where the trio is making lunch at their camp in Africa. The Macomber’s are an affluent American couple; of a high socially class in Africa on a safari. They begin discussing the morning’s hunt. The subject of discussion appears to trigger some discomfort among them, and quickly the source of their uneasiness is exposed. While hunting a lion, Francis Macomber fears and takes to his heals. He appears uncomfortable about it, and Wilson attempts to restore his confidence. Wilson in fact has little admiration for Macomber, but conceals this fact. Margot, on the other hand, makes several ironic references to the occurrence (Ernest, 5)

Francis and Margot’s marriage absolutely crumbles after Francis escapes from a lion instead of killing it. This action of cowardice by Francis sees Margot abandons his side to sleep with Robert Wilson that night. Francis is infuriated by Margot’s unfaithfulness and the following day, he fires at three buffalos and killing one of them. This is in an attempt to impress his wife, whom he views as involved with Wilson (Hemingway, 4).

After the incident, he changes completely and he fells a natural irrational joy that he had never experienced prior. Henceforth, he no longer worries and fears anything. Wilson is flabbergasted but at the same time pleased by his transformation.  Margot, on the other hand, is appalled and dreaded by her loss of control (Josh). When Macomber and Wilson hunt down and try to kill a wounded buffalo, she “unintentionally” kills her spouse with a gun while shooting at the buffalo. Francis matured as a person and Margot could not handle it (Hemingway, 17).


There are various themes that are depicted in this short story. Modernism is reflected in yet another theme of self discovery (Jorg). There are several questions that are asked that related with self-discovery. For instance “What am I in it?”, “What is my function in the universe?”, “What are the limits of Knowledge?” as well as “What s Real?” Besides, modernism is depicted when traditional values are no longer observed. For example, Margot starts a new relationship with Wilson. This also brings about another theme of love and betrayal. (Vogelmann, 3).

Courage and Cowardice; Robert Wilson is reflected as courageous man. He a professional hunter who is hired by Francis to guided him and his wife Margot in an adventure in their tour of Africa.  His courage actually makes him to be attractive to Margot who actually not only flirts with him in the course of their safari in Africa but also leaves her husband to sleep with Wilson.  In addition, Margot also can be argued to be a courageous woman who actually gained the courage to shot to kill a “buffalo” which she thinks endangers her husband’s life.  Notably, Francis is depicted as a coward by the fact that he escapes from a “life threatening” wounded lion. His fear is what actually leads to the trouble hat he faces in his marriage.

Masculinity is a theme that is featured much in this play. Here we see Francis out to prove to his wife that he is actually not a coward as she thinks. He involves himself in hunting an activity which portrays courage which is associated with masculinity. Hemingway asserts that true men are brave and bodily fit, confident and conceal doubts and insecurities to themselves (Grade Saver). Besides, Hemingway’s male ideal in this story is reflected Wilson, who is a hunter who lives, works, fires, and executes wild animals in the wilderness, and is physically courageous.

In addition, coming of age is in fact another theme in the play. According to Strychacz (14) “Macomber enters into his manhood in his thirty-fifth year….” This shows that he is maturing a thus coming of age. Besides, Macomber enters manhood through his attempts to please his wife as a courageous man. He actually competes with Wilson to win her affection. According to George, women are fascinated with courageous men. Further, death is theme that is echoed in the play. Francis escapes from a wounded lion and he is afraid for his dear life, finally he is murdered in a cold blood by his wife maggot; who fear loss of her control over him (Ben).

Conflict is a theme that cannot pass unnoticed. According to Karen , there is conflicts surrounding these three, first there is the conflict between Macomber and Margot, Macomber and Francis and the major between Macomber and himself because he cannot stand up to his wife. In the first two hunting expeditions, Macomber is in fear and has no confidence to kill a lion but later when he points to shoot a buffalo his confidence is seen to have grown. His gained courage makes Margot feels threatened for Macomber could end their marriage and she could end up losing his wealth, hence she kills him.

Characters and their character traits

The main characters in the play “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” are Francis Macomber, his wif.............

Type: Essay || Words: 1754 Rating || Excellent

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