Short Happy Life of Francis MacomberIn Ernest Hemingway’s “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” the truecharacter which is fit to qualify as the code hero is Francis Macomber. It isnot obvious at first considering that in the story Francis is portrayed as acowardly fearful man, as opposed to the manly and brave Wilson, who seems theperfect character to be the code hero. With the lion hunting incident at theopening of the story, Francis cowards off from the lion’s roar alone, runningto safety in front of his wife, which defies the code by not having acceptablebehavior in facing death, while Wilson goes in to face the lion and kills himbravely. Yet where the theme of the story is concerned, Francis faces a biggerchallenge than Wilson can ever imagine. Francis is a cowardly man, notphysically, but mainly mentally. He lacks self esteem and belief in his ownself, which leads to people stepping all over him, like his wife does. His wifeopenly cheats on Francis, only because she is convinced that he is too muchafraid 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 isless than what he is and she underestimates him just the same. Wilson is a toughman, who bravely earns a living by hunting wild safari animals for rich men whocome for hobby and to impress their wives. He is not facing an inner turmoillike Francis, just physical ones that he knows he can handle. He has muchesteem, 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 thestory’s climax, Francis proves to be the character Hemingway uses to fulfillhis 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 doesin a cowardly way that defies the second rule; when in face of death the heromust have acceptable behavior. At the near end of the story, Francis fulfillsthe code by thinking up in a quick minute, just like the code, is a man ofaction, he doesn’t think before he goes into the bush, he just lives for themoment with excitement. Francis, as the true Hemingway code hero, goes all hislife being a certain way, a cowardly man who is afraid of everything deep insidethat intimidates him, he has a life altering experience when his wife cheats onhim with the man who intimidates him the most at the moment, Wilson, he decidesto be brave and changes his fearful ways, just goes about his way by facing thebuffaloes as bravely as can be. At that moment the person who uses him for hisdiscontent in himself, Margot, realizes that he has changed and he will now havethe guys to leave her. The woman who before threatened Francis endlessly when hestood up for himself now is in fear that the cards are turned. Unfortunately forFrancis he dies of bravery when his wife mistakenly shoots him in the back ofthe head, missing the bull charging on to him, trying desperately to saveFrancis’ life. A major difference is this in Hemingway’s two exemplary codeheroes, 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 hisbravery sprouted from anger and jealousy and intimidation all rolled into one.
The short story carried a great moral, how people who are not content withthemselves get stepped all over by others. It teaches you that you are what youthink you are, its your choice to choose to be content or not content, the catchis that your decision might just change your outcome as it did in Francis’.