ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Explication: "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber"

Updated on March 4, 2019
Ronna Pennington profile image

Ronna Pennington has a Master of Liberal Arts degree (history) and is nearing completion of a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Non-fiction.

An early look at character traits in the male characters

An early extended conversation between Wilson and Macomber shortly after Macomber runs from the lion reveals character traits of each to the reader.

"What were you telling him?" Macomber asked. (Macomber was curious. Perhaps Wilson was making fun of him to the assistant for running from the lion. This shows Macomber's insecurity. )

"Nothing. Told him to look alive or I'd see he got about fifteen of the best."

"What's that? Lashes?"

"It's quite illegal," Wilson said. "You're supposed to fine them." (This shows that Wilson will do something that is prohibited. He's also rather proud of it since he's talking freely to Macomber about it. This foreshadows Wilson sleeping with Margo later in the story. That is also not permitted by moral and gentlemanly standards, but he does it anyway. Wilson sees that if the man is afraid to hunt, he is not likely to stand up for himself when Macomber realizes Wilson slept with his wife.)

"Do you still have them whipped?" (Macomber, ironically, asks this question because he understands nothing about whipping people into line or submission. His wife is a nagging whore that he cannot control.)

"Oh, yes. They could raise a row if they chose to complain. But they don't. They prefer it to the fines."

"How strange!" said Macomber. (This shows that Macomber knows little about people, at least people of a lower socio-economic level. While he has money to blow on a hunting trip to try to reaffirm his manhood, other men will take beatings to earn their full paycheck.)

"Not strange, really," Wilson said. "Which would you rather do? Take a good birching or lose your pay?"

Then he felt embarrassed at asking it and before Macomber could answer he went on, "We all take a beating every day, you know, one way or another." (Ironically, Macomber takes a beating each day from his wife. It will be worse now that he has run from the lion.)

This was no better. "Good God," he thought. "I am a diplomat, arent I? (7)"

Source

"Iceberg" writing style leaves much to be decided by the reader

This conversation keeps with Hemingway's minimalist writing style and shows the readers what he wants them to know about the characters instead of simply having the narrator tell them.

The last sentence sums up Macomber's character. As a diplomat, he is a fence straddler. He tries to make everyone happy. He is there hunting to try to reaffirm his masculinity to himself and to his wife. There's a chance, too, that he's attempting to reaffirm his manliness to his community in general. As a man wealthy enough to hunt, he would be well-known.

Running from the lion ruins all that, though. Instead, he embarrasses his wife by seeming more diplomat than rugged hunter. Wilson is the rugged hunter and Margot shows Macomber which she prefers when she sneaks out of their tent to have sex with Wilson.

On the trophy theme

Wilson has little respect for Macomber. For one, Macomber is a rich guy who visits in order to hunt for trophy, something that will give him a degree of social status back home. Wilson, however, lives the life of a hunter every day. Wilson also shows he has little respect for Macomber when he sleeps with Margot. Macomber, a diplomat, appears wishy-washy, a characteristic that neither Margot or Wilson respect. Hemingway effectively plays on this trophy theme throughout the story. Margot is Macomber's "trophy" wife. While she is older and a mean person, she still helps him maintain an air of manliness in the public. In a way, Macomber is her trophy, too. At her advanced age and with her attitude, she might have trouble finding another man to put up with her demeaning nature. The trophy theme is also closely connected to Wilson, who guides men on their trophy hunts.

Source

Hemingway, Ernest. "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber." The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway, Scribner, 2017, pp. 7-14.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://corp.maven.io/privacy-policy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)