The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber Characters

Ernest Hemingway


(Short Stories for Students)

Francis Macomber
Francis Macomber is a man of enough wealth that he can afford a private, guided hunting trip in Africa. He is a man of questionable courage who is more comfortable shooting from the car than stalking his prey on foot. His humiliation at being cuckolded prompts him to an act of foolish bravery that reveals in its outcome his wife’s lack of faith in him. His marriage to Margot is not a happy one, but Hemingway tells us that “Macomber had too much money for Margot ever to leave him.” After he flees from a lion that he has wounded, his wife sleeps with their guide, Robert Wilson. Hemingway’s statement that Macomber “was dressed in the same sort of safari clothes that Wilson wore except that his were new” illustrates the essential difference between these two men. Wilson is what Macomber pretends to be—a hunter and, at least in the eyes of Margot Macomber, a man. Macomber tries to rectify this by standing his ground before a charging buffalo. Just as he takes aim, however, he is felled by a gunshot from his wife.

Margaret Macomber
Margaret Macomber’s love for her husband is debatable at best. She seems much more interested in flirting with their guide, Robert Wilson, than in encouraging her husband. In fact, she is brazen and unabashed about her sexual dalliance with Wilson and taunts her husband with it. Hemingway writes that she is “an extremely handsome and well-kept woman.” The phrase “well-kept” is particularly revealing in its multiple meanings....

(The entire section is 631 words.)