"Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive." Yet death is something that is inevitable, and for some shortcoming. In Ernest Hemingway's "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber," Francis Macomber deals with the humiliation of being a coward and the constant battle for a "little boy" to come of age. Hemingway explores the theme of death through metaphors and influential symbols, ironically portraying the struggle to live with fear and the hunt for a "happy" life.
Francis Macomber has to deal with fear of death through his experiences on an African safari with the "white hunter," Robert Wilson. Margot, Macomber's sneering but beautiful wife, makes fun of poor Macomber for earlier acts of cowardice with a lion. Ironically a lion symbolizes the epitome of masculinity and power and Francis merely resembles the courage of a "rabbit". Francis fears the thought of death and shudders at the sound of the lion's roar. In David Sexton's "Desire for Oblivion," he comments that " . . . people more commonly protest against the brevity of life than welcome it, more usually fear death rather than worry that it may never come." Francis, a rich and young sportsman, is afraid to confront death and take on a lion. Ernest Hemingway describes fear through his talented hunter with a sense of ruthless abandon in "A Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber," Wilson states simply and plain: "Worst one can do is kill you" (32).
Hemingway uses symbols to portray the battle within Francis to become fearless and discover the "wealth" it can bring. Hemingway repeats the world boulder frequently to describe the surroundings of the safari. It is a symbol ...
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...Margot, "He would have left you too" (36). Though Wilson says he will report Macomber's death as accidental, it is safe to say his wife shot him on purpose. Margot did have the last laugh so to say, Wilson ironically put it, "That was a pretty thing to do" (36).
Bacon, Francis. "Of Death." The Oxford Anthology of English Literature. Ed. Frank Kermode and John Hollander. New York: Oxford UP, 1973.
Bloom, Harold. Ernest Hemingway. New York: Chelsea HP, 1985.
Hemingway, Ernest. The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. New York: Scribner, 1966.
---. "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber: Introduction." Short Stories for Students. Ed. Marie Rose Napierkowski. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale, 1998. 25 November 2007 .
---. "Hemingway, Ernest." Short Story Criticism. 1st ed. 1988.
Sexton, David. "Desire of Oblivion." TLS 1 Oct. 1993: 7-8.
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