The Intentional Death Of Francis Macomber Essay

Ernest Hemingway has created a masterpiece of mystery in his story
“The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber”. The mystery does not
reveal itself to the reader until the end of the story, yet it
leaves a lot to the imagination. At the end of the story
Margaret Macomber kills her husband by accident, in order to save
him from being mauled by a large Buffalo while on a safari in
Africa. The mystery is whether or not this killing was truly
accidental, or intentional. If it was to be considered
intentional, there would certainly have to be evidence in the
story suggesting such, with a clear motive as well. What makes
this mystery unique is that Hemingway gives the reader numerous
instances that would lead the reader to devise an acceptable
motive, yet human nature tells the reader that this killing could
not have been intentional. From a purely objective analysis of the
story, the reader would see far more evidence supporting the
theory of an intentional killing rather than an accidental one.

The clues supporting the idea that Margaret killed Francis
intentionally can best be seen when observing and studying the
background information on both Francis Macomber, and Margaret
herself. (Hemingway 1402). What is also important is that Margot
and Francis have very different personalities. This is clearly
seen when the narrator states, (Hemingway 1402).

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With this small amount of background information, the true motive
for an intentional killing can be found. This can clearly be seen
in the conversation of Francis Macomber after killing the buffalo
when he states, (Hemingway 1408. “(Hemingway 1409). Robert Wilson,
the guide on the hunt, gives the reader an outside perspective
into this complex and troubled relationship. In response to the
quote above Hemingway 1409).

Robert Wilson seems to be right in his descriptions of the couple,
and their relationship throughout the story. If this is true, and
none of his presumptions about the couple are false, then he gains
more credibility towards the end of the story. It is at this point
that he becomes the advocate of Margot actions, despite the fact
that they were intentional. It is Wilson that gives the reader the
best description of the relationship between Francis and his wife.

It is his insight into Margot, however, that is the most detailed,
and which seems to suggest that she might be capable of such an

From this astute analysis of the two, Wilson shows the reader
several very important things. One is the fact, although somewhat
machiavellian, that over her husband. Another observation that I
somewhat important is the This is the cruelty that Wilson observes
in the passage above.This, as she would soon see, was not the

One of the most important passages in the story occurs in the
moments just before Francis and Robert Wilson go into the bush
after the buffalo. After Margot fires the fatal shot, further
evidence is given by Robert Wilson that supports the assertion
that the killing was intentional Hemingway 1411). Wilson, who
seems to be accurate in his assessment of the relationship, seems
a credible witness to the killing and due to these facts, his
opinion as to the motive of the killing is credible to the reader
as well.. story.

From all of the evidence given in the story, and from an objective
analysis of the conversation and narration, it is safe to makethe
assumption that the killings were indeed intentional. There is
simply not enough tangible evidence given in the conversation or
narration that would suggest otherwise assertion. A Character
Analysis of Francis Macomber From Hemingway’s “The Short Happy
Life of Francis Macomber”
In Hemingway’s The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, the
author demonstrates his undeniable ability to bring characters to
life by introducing the reader in great detail to the main
character, Francis Macomber, through varying literary mechanisms.

The reader learns immense detail about Francis, as well as the
other two primary characters, Margaret and Mr.Wilson, through
creative description that includes each character’s thoughts,
their actions, and their reactions towards the events of the
story. Francis Macomber’s interior characteristics and impressions
are revealed through such omniscient statements as:
In addition, more details are revealed about the character of
Francis through the other principal characters and even through
the characters who play a very small role in the story (e.g., the
gun-bearers). For example, (p 250). By means of a combination of
this type of information, Francis Macomber’s character is changed
due to constant abuse from other characters, an inner struggle
with fear and embarrassment, and, eventually, by hatred- a deep
hatred for Mr. Wilson and a somewhat quieter hatred for Margaret

An initial cause in the final changes of Francis’ personality can
be attributed to the constant abuse suffered at the hands of his
wife, and, briefly, by Mr. WilsonFor example, in p 259. Francis
and Margaret have obviously reached a point of stagnation-
stagnation in their feelings for each other and stagnation in
their desire for the relationship. The attention from society
press (and society people), discussed in p 237-p 238, is more than
likely an additional driving force for Margaret as well. The
reader gets the impression that she craves the attention, good,
bad, or indifferent. Howeverhe demonstrates cowardice without fear
of remorse from his wife. However, it is the remorse that he
himself, deep inside, feels, that begins to turn Mr. Macomber
around. Additionally, Mr. Wilson also contributes to this
compounding abuse.

Even though, for the most part, Mr. Wilson’s feelings are
perceivably kept within the confines of his own mind, the effects
of these thoughts still exists. To illustrate, in p 54, Mr. Wilson
is thinking to himself, “So he’s a bloody four-letter man as well
as a bloody coward. I rather liked him too until today.” As the
reader progresses through the story, it is obvious that the
abusive remarks, thoughts, and actions of Mr. Wilson, and
especially those of Margaret, are central factors in contributing
to the changes that take place in the personality of Francis

Francis finds himself struggling with fear and embarrassment from
the onset of the story, although the details of the initial fear
are revealed to the reader somewhat later. This internal struggle
with fear and embarrassment is a paramount factor in his
subsequent transformation. Hemingway puts the reader in a position
to make decisions about the effects of the previously discussed
abuse as it relates to Francis’ internal battle with fear and
embarrassment. Clearly these feelings play a key role in the
development of the character, but this abuse also raises a few
questions. Is Macomber affected enough by the embarrassment and
the fear caused by the scene with the lion (p 168-p 229) to make
this final transformation? Is the incident with the lion in the
bush the contributing factor to Francis’ deep-rooted changes? No,
if it were that simple, Hemingway would have succeeded in creating
a rather listless story. To cite an instance, in p 89. Also, later
in the story, Mr. Wilson contributes outwardly to Francis’
feelings of embarrassment by bedding Margaret. In this capacity,
Mr. Wilson causes Francis to suffer the greatest embarrassment
that a man can endure. And then Mr. Wilson rubbed salt into the
wound by answering “Topping” to Francis’ inquiry into the state of
his previous night’s sleep (p 269). Plainly, the incident with the
lion caused an incredible fear within Francis. This feeling was
combined with multiple situations of inconceivable embarrassment,
which resulted in the transformation of Francis Macomber into a
new man.

A final and essential contributing factor to Francis Macomber’s
ultimate transformation is the hatred that forms within him.

Initially, the reader is given the impression that this hatred is
solely intended for Mr. Wilson, the man who saved his life and
then had the boldness to bed his wife in the bastion of night.

This hatred, however, is only aimed at the Mr. Wilson because he
is the most likely, the most obvious, target. It is Francis’ own
powerlessness in respect to his wife that stops him from
recognizing that this hatred is actually targeted towards her more
than towards Mr. Wilson. It is obvious that had the other man not
been Mr. Wilson, it would have been someone else. Indeed, it had
been someone else, many times. The reasons for the development of
this hatred toward his wife becomes more evident in p 261-p 264:
“You don’t wait long when you have an advantage, do you?”
“Please, let’s not talk. I’m so sleepy, darling.”
“I’m going to talk.”
“Don’t mind me then, because I’m going to sleep.”
Not only did she leave the tent, their tent, but she sneaked into
the night to bed a man she barely knew, and she also had the nerve
to come back into the tent and call Francis “darling!” To top off
the whole guilt-ridden, embarrassing and downright miserable day,
she additionally refused to speak to him about what had obviously
taken place. Not only did she refuse to speak with him, but she
chose to outright ignore him. Frankly, it is surprising that the
hatred for this woman that was developing within him did not cause
him to choke the soul out of her then and there! Hence, the events
of the story cause an intense hatred for both Mr. Wilson and
Margaret. This hatred is a chief element in reconstructing Francis
Macomber, in forming a man without fear of repercussion and giving
him the manhood he has needed for many years.

When faced with a combination of events and personalities, a man
must decide immediately which way he will go. Francis Macomber had
to make a decision that would stay with him for the rest of his
life. Would he continue to suffer at the hands of this abhorrent
woman? Would he continue to tolerate such behavior from his wife?
Would he continue to react to her behavior in the same manner, a
manner that causes men to gaze upon him with despite and
repugnation? Francis, in a sense, was given a second chance with
the lion, and it was again a life or death decision. Once again,
he had to decide- would he face the lion or would he turn and run?
This factor of the story is confirmed in p 237 when Francis
states, “about sex in books, many books, too many books…” Here
the reader can feel Francis’ near disgust with himself.

Furthermore, this also demonstrates that. The blending of mental
abuse, embarrassment and fear, and deep hatred were responsible
for changing the character of a boring, somewhat anesthetized
Francis Macomber into that of a man, a man with values and
feelings and morals; a man capable of living happily ever after,
regardless of the span of his life. The character Francis
Macomber, a wealthy American, and his wife, Margot, are on safari
with their English guide, Robert Wilson. Macomber wounds a lion
and runs away in fear. The guide is horrified at his bad
sportsmanship Macomber redeems himself by killing a buffalo
cleanly and bravely. he faces another buffalo, a charging, badly
wounded bull. From the car where she has been watching, Margot
takes aim and shoots at the charging buffalo, apparently to save
her husband’s life.


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