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The short happy life of Fracis Macomber shows how one man goes to waste after learning the meaning of courage on an African hunt. Macomber, a young, wealthy, coward, American hunter goes on a safari expedition with his wife led by an older, more experienced, cocky English hunter Wilson. Out here it’s not what or who you are but if you can survive the piercing cries of the wild and come to terms with the basic instinct of survival.
Francis Macomber and his “loyal” wife Margot set out on a safari expedition led by an older more experienced English hunter, Wilson. Macomber is a wealthy young American who involves himself in many sport oriented activities and has now dipped his feet in the biggest test of his life; being a man. Not only in the physical but the mental and spiritual sense; overcoming fear and being able to trust your own intuitive and go after what you want and take it, following the natural law of survival which entails knowing your strength, knowing your enemy, and being able to conquer at any cost. His test begins within the foundation of his family life when he realizes that although he has given all of himself externally to Margot. She cheats on Macomber with Wilson because he did not have the masculinity, bravery or aloofness that the older Wilson contained. Macomber’s first hunting experience did not show anyone his talents or bravery. He and Wilson had set out after a great lion but when Macomber came face to face with the great king of the wild, all fear rose and he “bolted like a rabbit”. With this, Wilson believed that the coward, young American would not be able to handle the wild safari, especially when they go for their major wealth, the buffalo.
They set out the following day to try another lion. Macomber is sure that he will be able to conquer this one. He, Wilson, and the gun bearers go into the vicinity of the lion’s nesting ground leaving his wife by the car. Here, again the great creature that instills only fear in him confronts Macomber and he shoots. The lion charges off running “you hit him in the front” Wilson says gravely. “We must go finish him”. Macomber does not want to go after the fierce beast; he wishes instead the incident never had taken place.
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That night Macomber lay awake and unaware of Margot’s absence as a result of being caught up in the day’s events. When she reentered, he asked where she had been but she dismissed his question arrogantly. Knowing she had been with Wilson enraged Macomber, “you’re a bitch”. “Well, you’re a coward”. Macomber acknowledges this and realizes that he has to fight for what he wanted and play the game his wife, Wilson, and everyone else played.
That morning as the three of them sat around the table, Macomber could not help but think of how much he hated Wilson at this point. Wilson, who seemed to have the strength and
Apathy of a great man now seemed to be nothing more than a cheap, whiskey drinking, and insolent bastard.
On his final quest to kill the most predominant beast in the safari, the buffalo, Francis Macomber’s life takes a drastic change. On his last fight for his pride and masculinity, Macomber and the rest of the group go to hunt the buffalo. On sight of the buffalo, Macomber feels a sense of strength with no fear of anything and no animosity towards anyone. He goes forth and gets what he wants for the first time. Instead of fear, he had a feeling of definite elation. Of the three buffs they aspire, Macomber himself kills two and the third went down with the help of Wilson. For the first time throughout the expedition, Wilson now sees Macomber as a hunter and respects the young guy. “Yesterday he’s scared sick and today he’s a ruddy fire eater.” Margot, on sight of her husband’s newfound strength now becomes a coward. She realizes that she no longer is in control and Macomber’s stoicism frightens her, Wilson’s respect for Macomber frightens her; her face was white and she looked ill.
While Macomber and Wilson bonded over their new wealth, one of the gun bearers come running from the bushes with a huge buff running after him. Both Macomber and Wilson fire their rifles as the buff is going down there is another shot; one from the car, it is Margot. She is luring a 6.5 mannlicher. She shot her husband in the head; she had to. She had to do it to survive. She could not lose it all just because Macomber found himself finally. Just as her husband and Wilson, she too had the animal instinct of survival. He had defeated the animal as well as his cowardness. Macomber finds his masculinity and loses his life. Although it was all an act of survival, the basic teaching is acknowledging, understanding, and being able to
interpret all that surrounds you because everyone’s intuition is bound by the natural survival instincts of life.