The short story "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" is about a heroic test of
physical and emotional courage. It is written by Ernest Hemingway. He is a twentieth century
American fiction writer. "In the short story "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber",
Hemingway depicted a range of ironic and heroic responses to the human condition" (Harris
and Fitzgerald 204). The three main characters of the story are Francis Macomber, Margot
Macomber and Wilson.
The story is about a wealthy American couple that goes to Africa on a safari. The wife is
beautiful and thinks she is above everyone else. She does not respect her husband. She has been
unfaithful to him many times. The husband is a tall, handsome man. He shows himself to be a
coward after he runs from a wounded lion. He also is a weak husband and allows his wife to get
away with anything.
Francis Macomber is a handsome, rich American. He shows himself very publicly to be a
coward. He had run from a wounded lion. He tried to act like it didn't happen and allowed the
servants carry him on their shoulders, as if he was the one who had slain the lion. Then he tells
Wilson not to say anything because he does not want to be laughed at by the people of the town.
Francis is also a weak husband. He knows that his wife is unfaithful, and he does not do anything
to stop her. "The emotion which principally comes through in Francis Macomber is a growing
antagonism to women and how this instinct to get the woman down presents itself frankly as a
fear that the woman will get the man down" (Baker 217). In the end Francis Macomber finds his Boatright 2
courage and becomes a hero. After shooting two buffalo, for the first time in his life he really felt
wholly without fear. Instead of fear he had a feeling of definite elation (Hemingway 31). He
realizes he will never be afraid of anything again, not a lion or standing up to his wife. "In this
story the male saves his soul at the last minute, and then is shot down by his woman, who does
not want him to have a soul" (Baker 217).
Margot Macomber is a very beautiful woman with high social standing. She was once a
model. She is ashamed of her husband showing publicly that he is a coward. Margot is conceded
and cruel. For example in the story she goes on and on about Wilson's red face. He asked her to
drop it, and she says, she has just started on it. She is an unwholesome wife. She beds down with
Wilson in the story after she sees his courage. From Francis Macomber's response you find that
this is not the first time she has bedded down with someone other than her husband. She tells him
boldly, that she knows that he will not do anything about it. "The American woman is of the most
soul-destroying sort" (Baker 217). When her husband finds courage, she tries to talk like what he
has done is nothing. She was afraid of losing the control she had over him, when he was a
coward. "This story is a terrific fable of the impossible civilized woman who despises the
civilized man for his failure in initiative and nerve, and then jealously tries to break him down as
soon as he begins to exhibit any" (Baker 217).
Wilson, the white hunter, is an average looking middle class guy. He may have had to
make compromises in route in order to stay alive in the world, but he still has that degree of
strength and self-knowledge that fits him for the task of the ideal world when he is forced
(Defalco 230). He is judgmental of Francis Macomber. In the beginning of the story he talks
of how he dislikes Francis. In the end of the story, he talks of hoe Francis has changed, and
Wilson starts to like Francis. Wilson takes his job as a hunter...