The Death of Francis Macomber: A Deliberate Act
In 1938 Ernst Hemmingway published the short story, “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber”, set on a hunting safari in Africa. The story tells the tale of a man and a woman in an unhappy marriage who have taken a safari in Africa in an attempt to repair their marriage. At the end of the tale, the titular character, Francis Macomber, lies dead on the African veldt, shot in the head by his wife Margaret (sometimes called Margot) in what appears at first glance to be a hunting accident. Upon a closer examination of the story, the question becomes, was it really an accident? Within the text of the story, there exist ample hints and signs that Margaret Macomber deliberately shot her husband, Francis.
When the story first begins, we find the unhappy Macombers on a hunting safari in Africa led by the professional guide Robert Wilson. With our first introduction to the Macombers, it is shown that the two are idle rich from the United States, more concerned with their appearance to high society than anything else. As the story progresses, the complicated and depressing state of affairs that exists between Francis and Margot is illustrated. Margot does not respect Francis, and openly displays her feelings by abusing Francis in public in front of Wilson and the gun bearers. Francis, himself, does not make matters any better. He is shown to be a timid, mild man, cowed by his wife. His spineless manner is further illustrated with the recounting of when faced with a wounded lion (an animal he was unable to kill outright with a well-placed shot) springing from the bush, Francis runs away leaving Wilson to finish the lion
and save Francis’ life. Francis himself understands his cowardly ac...
... middle of paper ...
...stopped being a boy. Francis pushes back in his faithless wife, showing he is no longer willing to accept his subservient and belittled position in the marriage. Given her past actions, she realizes that the power in the marriage has shifted, and Francis with his new found confidence, will leave her. Margot, her position no longer secure, and past her prime and having missed her chance to leave Francis, now only has one path open to her in order to secure the society lifestyle she so covets. And the choice to take that path she affirmatively makes in a spilt second and shoots her husband. Margaret Macomber shot her husband, deliberately, out of the fear of the new confident man he had grown into from a callow, simpering boy. No longer able
to hold the upper hand, Margot decided to kill Francis, rather than face an uncertain future with a confident Francis in it.
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