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Francis Macomber and his wife, Margaret (Margot), are in Africa on safari. Their hunting guide is Robert Wilson. The story opens shortly after Francis had been exposed as a coward while hunting a lion. Wilson tries to put his mind at ease, but Francis’ wife won’t let it drop. Wilson, being a professional hunter/safari guide, is used to situations like these: rich, weak-willed aristocrat types searching for some adventure. Francis is such a type, and wants to conquer his fear. Wilsonthinks that this fear has run Francis’ life. In fact, their marriage was based on superficialities: Francis married Margot because of her beauty, and she married him because of his money. For Francis, the venture shifts from adventure conquering his fear/proving he’s not a coward. They go after another lion. Frances runs away. Wilson has to kill the lion. Now, his wife is “through with him.” That night she sleeps with Wilson. The next day, they hunt buffalo, Francis conquers his fear. He’s elated and feels like a changed man. Wilson notices the change. Margot seems to notice a change in her husband, but it is ambiguous. While finishing off the last buffalo, in a confusing moment with all three firing at the bull, Margot shoots Francis in the head as the buffalo is almost upon him. Again, it is unclear whether Margot does this accidentally, on purpose, or subconsciously. Wilson tells Margot what must be done to ensure it looks like an accident. He doesn't stop talking until she says "please," giving the indication that he will let her manipulate him the way she did Francis.
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