Why does Ernest Hemingway write in a third-person omniscient point of view in "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber"? Is this point of view effective? Why or why not?

Hemingway writes in a third-person omniscient point of view in "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" in part because this story is longer than many of his others. Hemingway's third-person narratives tend to focus on external behavior, leaving the reader to imagine the turmoil beneath the surface. This works best in shorter stories, where Hemingway is able to give great significance to a single word, gesture, or change in tone.

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In his shorter stories, Ernest Hemingway tends to write from a third-person perspective that may be technically omniscient but in fact comments only on what can be seen on the surface. If Hemingway knows how his characters are feeling, he generally chooses not to share their emotions with his readers,...

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In his shorter stories, Ernest Hemingway tends to write from a third-person perspective that may be technically omniscient but in fact comments only on what can be seen on the surface. If Hemingway knows how his characters are feeling, he generally chooses not to share their emotions with his readers, except to note their tone or gestures or other matters a fly on the wall might observe. This allows him to examine his characters in great detail, laying bare the mechanics of communication.

"The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" is one of Hemigway's longer stories, and the author clearly decided that it would be unsustainable to maintain a "fly on the wall" style of third-person writing over so many pages. He therefore gives the reader an insight into the thoughts of one character in particular, Robert Wilson. This works well, mainly because Wilson is hard-boiled and laconic, with a fairly similar voice and perspective to the one Hemingway tends to adopt as narrator in any case.

Hemingway's third-person narratives are eminently well-suited to his "iceberg" style of writing, in which the reader is left to discern the emotional turmoil beneath the surface. One has only to imagine his characters talking about their inmost feelings and insecurities, in the way that, for example, Edgar Allan Poe's first-person narrators do, to see the wisdom of Hemingway's narrative choices for his style and subject matter.

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