Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Short, Happy Life of Francis Macomber-Ernest Hemingway

The story is of Francis Macomber and his wife on an African safari, led by Robert Wilson, so that Macomber might hunt game and get out of the United States. Macomber first hunts a lion. Macomber wounds the lion, but the lion escapes into the brush. As the men enter the brush to kill the lion, Macomber ends up turning and running away, leaving the lion to be killed by Wilson.  Seeing her husband act so cowardly, Mrs. Macomber ends up cheating and sleeps with the guide, Wilson. The next day, the group goes on to hunt Buffalo. As the group chases down the buffalo, Macomber finally matures enough to see the wrong in the relationship, and with his newfound courage intends to leave his wife. The men later realize that one of the three buffalo they were hunting did not die and is hiding in the brush. In an attempt to redeem himself, Macomber goes into the brush and stays this time. As the buffalo charges, Macomber stands his ground and shoots at the buffalo, trying to kill it. While doing so, Mrs. Macomber tries to shoot the charging buffalo from the car, but instead hits her husband in the back of the head.

In the first paragraph on page 2, it was quite evident to me that Mrs. Macomber was attracted to Wilson. Wilson and Mrs. Macomber continue on to flirt, speaking of Wilson’s “red face” and beauty.  We later learn the “red face” comes from when Mrs. Macomber kisses Wilson in the car. Speaking of the kiss, what a twist in the plot that was! The beginning all made sense after that. I found it odd that Wilson referred to Mrs. Macomber as “Memsahib.” I found it odder that Wilson always seemed to be the first to address Mrs. Macomber, sat next to her in the car, etc. For instance, on page 8 Wilson says, “The Memsahib can sit back here with me.” This was before the affair.

I found it odd that once the children found out Macomber didn’t kill the lion, Wilson threatened them with lashes, which are illegal. The workers would rather be whipped than fined and lose their pay. Money, no matter how much, is probably very important to the workers. Another example of this is the gun-holders. They probably don’t get paid much to do such a dangerous job.

I really liked that Hemingway showed us the perspective of the lion. The graphic description of the bullets “ripping” through the flank and the ribs of the lion, etc. really made me feel for the lion. Hemingway even says, “Macomber had not thought of how the lion felt as he got out of the car.” No hunter ever thinks of how their prey feels. This reminded me of “The War Prayer” and how the people only prayed for one side and neglected the other side’s feelings.

What does the word “shauri” mean?

The whole time after “the kiss” occurred, I couldn’t help but to get pissed off at Macomber’s naivety (may not be the word I’m looking for). It was so easy to see that he should have left his wife! Then again, Hemingway goes on to explain that, “Margot was too beautiful for Macomber to divorce her and Macomber had too much money for Margot ever to leave him.” Such an instance is a common occurrence in society. Too often people stay in crappy relationships because they think they can’t do any better. When Macomber finally had his mini-epiphany while hunting the buffalo and grew a pair, I couldn’t help but find myself cheering for him.

I also felt like Wilson hunted more than game. I think he also hunted wives. He admitted to having a double cot for situations such as the one that arose between Mr. and Mrs. Macomber, and also admitted to pursuing clientele (troubled couples) such as them.

I think the end is set up to really make you wonder whether Mrs. Macomber shot her husband on purpose or not. I, for one, think that she did it intentionally. She knew her husband was finally going to leave her and she couldn’t stand the fact. The part that really had me with my mouth hanging open was when Wilson called her out about it. He was completely apathetic to the fact that Macomber was just shot and killed! Also, the most appalling part to me were the last two lines when Mrs. Macomber says, “Please stop it” and Wilson responds by saying, “Please is much better. Now I’ll stop.” Here, Wilson is exercising his control over Mrs. Macomber. He will not allow himself to be walked all over like Macomber was by his wife. I don’t find myself wowed by much when I read, but this was definitely one of those moments for me.

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