The Sun Also Rises, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, and The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber by Ernest HemingwayIn the short story, The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, author Ernest Hemingway introduces the reader to the Macombers, a loveless married couple who is on a hunting safari in Africa. After an episode in which Francis runs away from a lion that he is hunting, all of the couple’s problems become exposed. His wife Margot is cold and callous to Francis because of his cowardice. The fragility of their relationship is further exposed by the presence of their guide and professional hunter Robert Wilson. He was a contrast to Francis in many ways. He was not as tall, well dressed or well groomed as Francis and he also did not show a hint of fear when the two were hunting the lion. These characters are certainly not the first couples that Hemingway described, nor are they the only ones involved in a love triangle. They do however, demonstrate the greatest deterioration of a relationship when compared to other Hemingway couples from The Snows of Kilimanjaro and The Sun Also Rises.
Before comparing the Macombers to any other couple it is important to account for the nature of their relationship. From the descriptions, both are well-built and attractive people. Macomber’s wife even made a living off her looks by endorsing beauty products. Francis was “very tall, very well built” and “considered handsome” (p. 122). An 11-year marriage has clearly begun to take its toll, however, and Macomber’s cowardice when hunting the lion only fueled his wife’s frustration with their relationship. She refuses to converse with him for the rest of the day and come nighttime, she disappears for over two hours to have sex with Wils…
… set aside his inhibitions and live by the hunter’s code. Francis did not have a woman who loved him like Jake or Harry, but he finally was able to find a code to live by, even if it was only a short and happy time.
All of the male characters in relationships are suffering from one form of impotence or another. Jake’s and Harry’s were of a physical nature, while Francis’ was emotional. The emotional impotence, however, proved to be the most damaging. Jake and Harry still had women who loved them despite their inability to perform in the bedroom. Francis had no physical ailments. His wife however perceived his emotional impotence to be a great source of embarrassment and caused their relationship to be the most discontent of the three. Virility, while important to all of the women on some level, was only a determining factor of love for Margot and Francis.