Professor, Kaur, Manavpreet
The short Happy Life of Francis Macomber by Ernest Hemingway
"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 for the road to which Macomber must take, as there are things you need to either step over, walk around, and fight the constant battle full of hurdles placed in your path. In order to overcome something as substantial as the fear of death, Macomber needs to confront it and conquer it. In "Ernest Hemingway," Edmund Wilson perfectly realizes, " . . . the male must save his soul even at the last possible moment." Even in death, there is an opportunity to live and to salvage something that nobody can take from you.
Even after the miserable start to the trip, Macomber still is dealing with the restlessness and the shame from the lion. Hemingway describes "but more than shame he felt cold, hollow fear in him" (11). Hemingway uses metaphor to compare fear to the coldness of a "hollow." Ironically the name Francis is known to be a weak and cowardly name, which seems to be a perfect fit for Macomber. In Short Story Criticism, they comment sarcastically about the manner Margot is perceiving her husband: "As we all know, good wives admire nothing in a husband except his capacity to deal with lions, so we can sympathize with the poor women in her trouble."...