Note: This post is part of The Hemingway Collection, an archive of essays, images, and hyperlinks to interesting articles about the great American author.
“Mr. Wilson is really very impressive killing anything,” an essay on “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” by David Gagne.
Mr. Wilson doesn’t really kill just anything. Mrs. Macomber does. She kills Francis, that’s for sure. Mr. Wilson helps her to kill her marriage just as he helps Francis kill animals. There is quite a bit of killing in this story, actually. The only birth is Francis’, which is a shame because it comes so soon before his death. The title of the story, in my opinion, is a comment by Hemingway about how Francis is not really alive until he becomes a man.
These two sentences are indicative of Mr. Macomber’s connecting murder and the act of killing with the concept of manhood or manliness. Her coquettish way of teasing Francis, by acting as if Mr. Wilson is the end-all of machismo, is nauseating. But Hemingway uses it to throw her humanity into question in the mind of the reader, which confuses the intentionality of her husband’s eventual murder even more. This one of her statements is another possible clue that Mrs. Macomber isn’t afraid to kill a person, in fact she desires to kill anything. It can also be seen as her imploring Mr. Wilson to rid her of her pasky husband, but I don’t think she would seriously ask him. When she asks him if he’ll kill anything, it is a rhetorical question to irk Francis. She knows that he, unlike her husband at this point in the story, is a “real” man.
New comments are disabled on this post.