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Explain what impact the controversy between the accidental and purpose killing of...

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gmanloyd | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 26, 2010 at 6:51 AM via web

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Explain what impact the controversy between the accidental and purpose killing of Francis Macomber has on the story.

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted October 26, 2010 at 7:52 AM (Answer #1)

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The whole point of the story comes down to this last page.  The question is, "Does Margot kill Francis on purpose, or is it, as she says, an accident?"  In order to decide on the impact, you have to think about what Hemingway's point is by the end of the story.  This story, like most Hemingway stories is illustrating what we have come to see as the Hemingway Code Hero.  Francis hasn't acted like much of a man/hero throughout the story.  He fails on the first hunting expedition and reveals his cowardliness.  Margot doesn't respect him or their marriage.  But on the second hunting outing, things are different.  Francis is finally becoming his own man, and is bravely hunting the lion. It is is in this moment of personal glory and "grace under fire" that Margot kills Francis.  Does she really do it on accident in a failed attempt to save him from the charging animal, or is she suddenly realizing that Francis is coming into a new understanding of himself and will likely no longer put up with her behavior and control of their relationship?  Hemingway never directly tells us what the truth of the matter is, but Wilson's reaction and Margot's comments lead readers to question the veracity of her story.  It seems very likely that Margot feared for her life (as she wanted to live it) and saw to it that Francis couldn't change anything.  He, as the title of the story suggests, had a short, happy life -- he felt truly alive -- for that short time in this final hunt.  He lived up to the ideal of the Hemingway hero for those few minutes!

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