Ernes Hemingway is known as perfect stylist within the field of modern American literature that is demonstrated though such example as the current story. The ‘Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” includes such themes as fear, courage, emancipation and the statement of manhood. This story is written from the third person and it has three separate parts. The story has a lot of mystifications and the hidden mystery that reveals itself only in the final part of the story.
The first section introduces the three main characters: Francis Macomber, his wife Margaret that is referred to as Margot and Robert Wilson. From the very beginning of the story the difference of Francis from the rest of characters becomes obvious. This is demonstrated though the series of routine details and ordinary moments that in fact have special meaning for the real meaning of the story. For example, when Francis asks Wilson and Margot “Will you have lime juice or lemon squash?” he receives an equal answer – both of them prefer a stronger drink called gimlet.
The demonstrated isolation of this character is extremely important because in the following parts of the story the real reason of this differentiation will be developed and the reader will see several reasons for this detachment.
Robert Wilson is another important character whose individuality lies in strong and realistic character. He is a guide of safari and an experienced hunter. His inner power lies in astuteness, thoughtfulness and neutrality to people around him. These features make him a perfect narrator of the current story.
He is currently custodian of the two people: Francis, a “very tall, very well built” man and his wife Margot that is characterized as stable, confident and “extremely handsome and well-kept” woman (Hemingway 122). Both of them are extremely realistic and, although they disdain each other, are inseparable and interdependent. While Margot depends on Francis in financial support, he lacks self-confidence and stability that he finds in his wife.
One of the most important tactics used within the first part of the story is the usage of color to deepen the hidden sense of the story. When Margot tells Wilson about the red color of his face, Francis mentions that he has the same face color. However, the differentiation increase as Wilson’s face is red because of drinking, while Francis is red because he is embarrassed after the hunting when the lion charged him. The reply of Margaret is perfect – she says that it is not his, but her face to become red – because she feels ashamed of his pusillanimity. Moreover, with thus answer Margot indirectly underlines that she has more in common with Wilson that Francis.
The second part of the story develops the theme of Francis’ embarrassment. It also detects the theme of weakness through the situation with lion. Francis ran away when being attacked by lion and gave the initiative to Wilson that has also been mentioned by his wife. On their way back, Margot kisses Wilson, and her defeated husband cannot do anything to stop this. It becomes clear that Margot betrays him in conjugality with Wilson, but Francis understands that he will not leave her as cannot be without her.
The differentiation increases between the two main male characters before the buffalo hunting when Wilson recommends Francis to order Margot to stay at the camp. However, Francis does not feel any power to do that as he cannot prevent any of her actions, even her betrayal with Wilson. Moreover, the difference of these two men is seen when Francis suggests Wilson to leave the lion and not to go hunting. Francis demonstrates his fright, while Wilson is practical and even in some way humane. He does not want to leave the lion because it can be found by someone else and he decides to finish their job and kill the animal.
The third part of the story is the one that is the most interesting because of the change it demonstrates. This change is within Francis when he leaves behind the situation with the lion and is ready for the new hunting. When he and Wilson kill buffalos, Francis celebrates it and drinks whiskey together with his wife and hunter. This is a bright contrast to the situation with lime juice and lemon squash that took place in the first part of the story. It demonstrates how different the character is from the beginning of the story. He gets closer to
Margot and Wilson, becomes more confident. Strong drinks here represent the stronger Francis that becomes a grown-up man, not a boy. Unfortunately, these new changes are not continuing for a long time. During the period when Wilson and Francis are trying to kill the next buffalo that suddenly charges the young man, Margot accidentally shoots her husband. However, the absence of pattern of her shoot is a point for a discussion as it can possibly not be an accident.
In case this situation is accidental, then the reader witnesses the tragic final of the story and the real drama lies in fact that Margot loses her opportunity to have a happy future of living together with her new, changed husband. Francis transformed from the grown-up child to a real strong man. It seems that Margot wanted to have such a husband, but she is not mean to be together with him. However, the hidden sense comes from the serious perspective of being left as new strong and confident Francis could possibly leave his wife.
Another possibility is that Margot wanted to shoot her husband. In this situation she remains to be the stronger member of their couple. During the entire story she is sued for her dominant position and it is natural that she wants to keep her position. In the need of the text it is underlined that she is sitting in the jeep and waiting for men being “very afraid of something” (Hemingway 149) The reason of her fear is probably her understanding that Francis has changed and he will no longer undergo her unfaithfulness and will leave her. This frightens her not only because of the loss of his financial support, but first of all because she will not be controlling him anymore.
Hemingway, Ernest. The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber. New York: Short Fiction, 1936. Prnit.