Chapter 8 Summary
The day Mary shoots her lion, the weather is beautiful, and flowers had blossomed after the rain. Mary awakens before dawn but complains of not feeling well. She is in a bad mood, but Hemingway reasons that this will help her in the hunt because he believes she is too kind-hearted to be an aggressive hunter.
They wait until it is light to start. Hemingway compares the tenseness they are feeling to that of a matador before a bullfight. When dawn breaks, they drive to a spot in the meadow. They stop, and almost immediately the lion comes toward them. Hemingway and G.C. agree to go back to camp. The lion goes back into the forest. Mary is not happy, but she understands this is necessary to get the lion to break his behavior pattern.
Another policeman, Mr. Harry Dunn, comes into camp soon after the hungers return. He asks about their killing a leopard before Christmas, and Hemingway explains about Mary’s quest to kill the lion. Arap Meina and the Chief Game Scout arrive with the news that the lionesses and a young lion had made a kill up by the salt flat.
After lunch they all lie down for a nap. Hemingway reads a book about a rampaging lion. That afternoon they go out after the lion. They get out of the car and approach the forest from different directions. Hemingway sees the lion standing in the brush. The lion looks at Hemingway, then he turns to look at Mary and G.C. Mary fires and hits him, but he takes off running as Mary continues to fire. Hemingway and G.C. also fire and at last bring him down. Mary argues with Hemingway that he shot first, which he denies. G.C. agrees with Hemingway, and finally Mary believes that the lion is hers. Mary is pleased but Hemingway feels empty. Back at camp, the native hunters dance around the campfire. Hemingway regrets that Mary’s shot did not kill the lion instantly and that more shots were necessary. He knows this will always be a disappointment for Mary. He cannot sleep because of this and thinks of a line written by his friend F. Scott Fitzgerald: “In a real dark night of the soul it is always three o’clock in the morning.” This leads him to realize that he knows nothing about the soul, nor does really believe in its existence.
Hemingway, still unable to sleep, gets up and sits by the campfire. G.C. is also there. They discuss Fitzgerald’s quotation and conclude that it has to do with despair. G.C. apologizes for having to leave. Mary will take it badly, and Hemingway will have to ride it out.