In "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” by Ernest Hemingway, a rich man with his wife on an African safari shows himself a coward when he runs from a wounded lion, to the disgust of both his safari guide, Robert Wilson and his wife. Hemingway uses imagery, representation and the narrative voice to reveal the importance of demands placed by heteronormative masculinity. Hemingway contrasts physical descriptions, weapons used and character perspectives to establish the identity of a masculine man.
First, Hemingway, early in the story, uses physical description of the three characters’ clothing and looks in order to establish Wilson as an adult model, in contrast to the naive Macomber. Francis “…was considered handsome [and] was dressed in the same sort of safari clothes that Wilson wore except that his were new” (Hemingway 10). In contrast, Wilson’s clothing is old and worn, his boots dirty, and his appearance, the “baked red,” of his face, the “faint, white wrinkles at the corners of his eyes” (10), reinforces the image of a man who has overcome challenges. This contract between the two men is significant; one reason being it develops a distinction between the two men where Wilson is a man who has experienced tough situations on the safari for years now whereas Macomber is new and inexperienced to this manly, hunting field.
The physical and clothing contrast between the two men is also significant as Margot notices it. In her eyes, Wilson has shown his “manhood,” while her husband “[has] just shown himself, very publicly, to be a coward” (10). Macomber had revealed his weakness by running away from the wounded lion (26); coming short of his responsibility as a man to hunt with confidence. The contrast between Wilson’s masculinity versus Macomber’s adolescence of is physically symbolized to Wilson by the fact Francis has a face “that would stay adolescent until it became middle-aged” (13). This interpretation of Macomber’s features through the...
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