Essay, Research Paper: Short Happy Life Of Francis Macomber

Literature: Ernest Hemingway

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In Ernest Hemingway’s “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” the true
character which is fit to qualify as the code hero is Francis Macomber. It is
not obvious at first considering that in the story Francis is portrayed as a
cowardly fearful man, as opposed to the manly and brave Wilson, who seems the
perfect character to be the code hero. With the lion hunting incident at the
opening of the story, Francis cowards off from the lion’s roar alone, running
to safety in front of his wife, which defies the code by not having acceptable
behavior in facing death, while Wilson goes in to face the lion and kills him
bravely. Yet where the theme of the story is concerned, Francis faces a bigger
challenge than Wilson can ever imagine. Francis is a cowardly man, not
physically, but mainly mentally. He lacks self esteem and belief in his own
self, which leads to people stepping all over him, like his wife does. His wife
openly cheats on Francis, only because she is convinced that he is too much
afraid if she left him, he can’t be wanted by another woman. Francis’
behavior towards her is the root of her observation, he is convinced that he is
less than what he is and she underestimates him just the same. Wilson is a tough
man, who bravely earns a living by hunting wild safari animals for rich men who
come for hobby and to impress their wives. He is not facing an inner turmoil
like Francis, just physical ones that he knows he can handle. He has much
esteem, he is positive that he can overcome any challenge that his job brings.
For his own hobby, he pleasures the wives of the rich men he works for. In the
story’s climax, Francis proves to be the character Hemingway uses to fulfill
his code hero. Francis seems not to fit the code in the beginning of the story,
for the Hemingway code hero must: avoid death at all costs, which Francis does
in a cowardly way that defies the second rule; when in face of death the hero
must have acceptable behavior. At the near end of the story, Francis fulfills
the code by thinking up in a quick minute, just like the code, is a man of
action, he doesn’t think before he goes into the bush, he just lives for the
moment with excitement. Francis, as the true Hemingway code hero, goes all his
life being a certain way, a cowardly man who is afraid of everything deep inside
that intimidates him, he has a life altering experience when his wife cheats on
him with the man who intimidates him the most at the moment, Wilson, he decides
to be brave and changes his fearful ways, just goes about his way by facing the
buffaloes as bravely as can be. At that moment the person who uses him for his
discontent in himself, Margot, realizes that he has changed and he will now have
the guys to leave her. The woman who before threatened Francis endlessly when he
stood up for himself now is in fear that the cards are turned. Unfortunately for
Francis he dies of bravery when his wife mistakenly shoots him in the back of
the head, missing the bull charging on to him, trying desperately to save
Francis’ life. A major difference is this in Hemingway’s two exemplary code
heroes, Francis Macomber and Frederic Henry of “A Farewell to Arms”,
Frederic actually lives on to change his ways of thinking and his values.
Francis is a misfortuned man who finally is saved and dies from cowardice by his
bravery sprouted from anger and jealousy and intimidation all rolled into one.
The short story carried a great moral, how people who are not content with
themselves get stepped all over by others. It teaches you that you are what you
think you are, its your choice to choose to be content or not content, the catch
is that your decision might just change your outcome as it did in Francis’.
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