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The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber

The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber

by Ernest Hemingway

Analysis: Plot Analysis

Most good stories start with a fundamental list of ingredients: the initial situation, conflict, complication, climax, suspense, denouement, and conclusion. Great writers sometimes shake up the recipe and add some spice.

Initial Situation

Safari Time

It's just what you do when you are good-looking, wealthy, and sporty. You have done the motorcycles and big-sea fishing, the duck hunting, and the court games. Now it's time for Francis Macomber to prove himself as a big game hunter in the African bush.

Conflict

A Lion Roars

All night long before the hunt, Macomber lies in his tent, hearing the lion roaring nearby. The racket is jangling his nerves, so getting his game face on in the morning is no easy feat.

Complication

Not What He Had Planned

Out in the field with his wife and his hunting guide, Francis Macomber freezes. The lion has gotten the best of him and even though he gets one bullet in the cat, he does not have the courage to finish him off, so Wilson has to do it for him.

Climax

Margot Can't Stand by Her Man

As if he hasn't had a bad enough day already, Macomber now has his wife trotting off to sleep in another man's tent. He is determined to make up for his failure by getting a buffalo the next day.

Suspense

The Second Hunt

Back out in the field, Macomber is determined to get the buffalo. He is shooting like a pro and downs the buffalo with ease after an exciting chase.

Denouement

"Macomber felt a drunken elation" (4.104)

Macomber feels unprecedented joy. He has proven himself a man. Of course, Margot has to deflate his experience straight away by pointing out that he made some shots from the car, which is unfair. But Macomber is not the same man he was before. As we soon learn, Margot likes her man dejected and pathetic. This new version of her husband is not to her liking.

Conclusion

Margot the Widow

When Wilson and Macomber go into the bush to finish off the buffalo, the animal charges. Uh oh. Shots are fired. Even Margot gets in on the action, only instead of shooting the animal, she shoots her husband, killing him where he stands.

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