The Short Happy Life Of Francis Mccamber Term Paper

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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’.

Word Count: 684

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