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Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber

Since the advent of the feminist era, Ernest Hemingway's literary legacy has seemed to be on shaky ground. Hemingway has abruptly been held up as the American male at his worst. He delighted in the brutality of bullfights and the hunt. Not content with killing animals, he was also fascinated by warfare. His relationships with women were often either openly misogynist or embarrassingly infantile. By the 1970s the Hemingway myth was subject to increasing ridicule. As a final indignity, 1987 produced Kenneth S. Lynn's biography, Hemingway, which described its subject as a sad victim of gender confusion. But in his own writings, both in fiction and in non-fiction, Hemingway was remarkably consistent in his vision of maleness and sexuality.

There is still a cult of American males who adulate the so-called "Hemingway Code." This code receives a detailed definition in the story, "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber." On the surface, this is a simple adventure tale built around a sexual triangle. Macomber and his wife Margot are a wealthy society couple on an African safari. Their guide is a professional white hunter named Robert Wilson. Early in the story, Macomber shows himself to be a coward by running away from two lions. His wife, half humiliated at her husband's failure and half delighted at his emasculation, uses this as an excuse to sleep with the more virile Wilson.

Enraged at both of them, Macomber distinguishes himself by bravely firing upon a herd of buffalo. During a pause in the hunt, Macomber suddenly realizes that his fear is gone. Soon thereafter, he courageously fires away as a wounded bull charges toward him. His death is certain, but he does not care. In a sudden attempt to save her husband, Margot fires the shot which kills Macomber.

The story is written in third person with a shifting viewpoint. Most of the story is seen through Wilson's eyes. He is, after all, the story's exponent o...

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Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 20:10, August 03, 2020, from