The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber was a very good story. I really enjoyed reading it, and I feel like I could write a million things about it! :) It is about a married couple, Francis and Margot Macomber, who on a hunting safari in Africa with their guide, Robert Wilson. In the beginning Francis Macomber has embarrassed himself by running a way from a lion that he was supposed to kill. Francis and his wife have an entirely dysfunctional relationship, and his embarrassment over the lion does not make things any better. After Macomber is able to redeem himself by killing two buffalo he gains back the confidence that it seems he lacked his entire life. Unfortunately, Macomber is shot by his wife shortly after, and does not live to enjoy his newfound sense of self-assurance.
For some reason this story reminded me of another work I read in my British Literature class called “A Chance for Mr. Lever” by Graham Greene. I think the main characters in these two stories have a lot in common with one another. Both are unsure of themselves, and out on an expedition to find some kind of redemption. In the end of each of these stories, when the men finally think they’ve figured things out, they both meet an untimely demise. Ironically, both of these works were published the same year.
I don’t think I could write a good blog about this story without at least mentioning the absurd relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Macomber. It says on page 13 that “Margot was too beautiful for Macomber to divorce her and Macomber had too much money for Margot ever to leave him.” I think this sums up their entire relationship. Neither of them seemed to truly love, or even like, one another. Margot’s adultery proved she definitely didn’t love Macomber. I think this dysfunctional relationship really plays into much of our discussion about human connection in 20th century writing. These two people are not connected like you would expect a married couple to be, and they certainly don’t make each other happy. They stay together for superficial reasons and that is all. In the end you are left wondering if Mrs. Macomber shot her husband on purpose or if she really was trying to stop the charging buffalo.
I am still trying to figure out Robert Wilson’s character. Is he simply there to add commentary form an outside perspective about this American couple? Or does he play a larger role in Hemingway’s commentary on human behavior? Personally, I think he does both. I am interested to hear what the rest of our class thinks about this story, and its fascinating characters.