Study Guide

The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber Section 2

By Ernest Hemingway

Section 2

  • That afternoon, Macomber and Wilson go out hunting again. Margot stays back at the camp, because it's too hot to go out.
  • As the two men drive off in the jeep, Wilson notices how beautiful she is as she waves to them.
  • The two men find a herd of impala. Macomber makes a good shot, which earns Wilson's respect.
  • Wanting to "clear away that lion business" (2.8), Macomber tells Wilson again that he wants to hunt some buffalo the next day.
  • Mainly, Macomber hates that his wife saw his weakness, but Wilson thinks it's worse that the whole thing happened in the first place. He wishes Macomber would just drop it.
  • That night, Macomber lays in his tent, still sick over the events of the day.
  • Now we flash back to the night before, when the whole lion drama started:
  • Macomber is lying in his cot when he hears the sound of a roaring lion. His wife is gently breathing and asleep but he's wide-awake, terrified. Can you blame him?
  • Before the sun is even up, Macomber and Wilson are eating breakfast, and they hear the lion roar again. He sounds even closer this time.
  • The two of them discuss shooting the lion. Macomber is concerned with range – how close will he have to get? Wilson senses trouble already. Clearly Macomber is a scaredy cat.
  • Margot wakes and joins them. She's excited about the hunt, but notices that Macomber is already anxious. We wish we could point out to Margot that she's not the one who has to shoot the animal – Macomber is.
  • He tells her the roaring has been getting to him, but she unsympathetically reminds him that the whole point of the trip is to get near the lion. Duh.
  • The lion is getting closer, which makes Macomber all the more nervous and his wife all the more excited, and irritated with him. She enjoys the roaring, and the fact that Macomber is squirming.
  • They all climb into the car, with Macomber riding shotgun, and set off on the hunt.
  • Macomber's hands are trembling as they come across signs that the lion is nearby. Wilson spots the beast. Here we go.
  • Figuring the lion is about 75 meters away, Wilson tells Macomber to get out of the car. You can't shoot animals from the car. (Shmoop, however, will continue our recap from the safety of the vehicle, thank you very much.)
  • Now the lion is watching Macomber right back. The lion sees that it is a "man figure" (2.74), then feels the burn of bullets entering his flank and ribs. He makes a plan to crouch in the high grass then pounce on the man when he comes closer.
  • As we might have guessed, when Macomber tries to finish the job, he isn't able to hit the lion.
  • Wilson and his gun-bearers offer Macomber an unenthusiastic response, and then Macomber and Wilson discuss their next move.
  • It's crystal clear that Macomber doesn't want to finish the job, but Wilson delivers the bad news. The lion probably isn't dead, and Macomber has to kill the animal. But it's going to be tough because the lion is likely hiding, and waiting to pounce right when the men stumble upon him.
  • Wilson and Macomber follow the trail of blood (the "spoor").
  • Unable to keep his fear under wraps, Macomber tries to come up with other solutions to get at the lion, even suggesting that they send in the "beaters" – men who would beat the grass and scare the lion out. Wilson tells him that the idea is "murderous."
  • Before he knows it, Macomber blurts out that he doesn't want to go in after the lion.
  • At this point, there's no denying that Macomber is a coward. Wilson is embarrassed for the guy.
  • Even he, a die-hard hunter, has sympathy for the lion. He wouldn't leave him suffering like Macomber would.