Archive for October 2001

Analysis of “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber”

October 26, 2001

Ernest Hemingway’s “Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” is a double statement about manhood. The story’s plot revolves around a rich thirty-five year old American’s sudden transformation from a boy to a man during an African safari. Underneath the surface, however, is a scathing criticism of the American upper class of the 1920’s and 30’s. Hemingway’s distinct style and universal theme make this story a classic.

The narrator of “The Short Happy Life”, Robert Wilson, is a gruff, tough British hunter-turned-tour guide. He is a realistic and static character whose insight, thoughtful nature and neutrality to those around him greatly aid his telling of the story. His current charges are Francis Macomber, the “very tall, very well built” realistic main character and Margot, his “extremely handsome and well-kept”, static, realistic wife (122). The two despise each other but are inseparable; Margot is too old and dependent on Francis’s wealth and Francis lacks the confidence necessary to get another woman.

Francis and Margot’s marriage completely disintegrates after Francis runs away from a lion instead of killing it on the safari; that night, Margot leaves Francis’s side to lie with Robert Wilson. Francis is enraged by Margot’s infidelity and the next day shoots three buffalo, killing one. After the encounter, he is a changed man; “Macomber felt a wild unreasonable happiness that he had never known before” and no longer fears anything (149). Wilson is surprised but pleased by the change; Margot, however, feels sickened and dreaded by her loss of power. When Macomber and Wilson hunt down and try to kill a wounded buffalo, she “accidentally” kills her husband with a pistol while shooting at the buffalo. Francis matured as a person and Margot could not handle it.

According to Hemingway, the problems between Francis and his wife never would have occurred if not for the weakness of American society. Wilson regards Francis as one of the “great American boy-men”, “damned strange people” who look and act like boys well into their fifties (150). He is even more wary about the wife, he considers American women “the hardest, the cruelest, the most predatory and the most attractive and their men have softened or gone to pieces nervously as they have hardened” (126). He finds Francis’s wife and other American women very attractive and has sexual intercourse with them frequently, but has still “seen enough of their damn terrorism” (128). Hemingway, clearly, has had enough with the wealthy of America.

Though the setting of “The Short Happy Life” is essential to the events that take place therein, man’s coming of age is one of the most popular themes of world literature. Hemingway agrees with many thinkers that a man is created through challenge and suffering; his main character’s sudden transformation through the killing of wild beasts is a different interpretation of the nature challenge and suffering. Hemingway is also unique in the different reactions of his supporting characters; Robert Wilson, a man, is pleased and intrigued by Francis’s change while Francis’s wife, Margot, is mortified. Misogyny happens to be another common theme in Hemingway stories.

Hemingway’s style is one of the most distinctive in the English-speaking world. It is brief and heavy on dialogue and descriptions of places. His vocabulary and sentence structure are both very simple. Though its originality can make it somewhat difficult to read, Hemingway’s style is lively and refreshing.

“The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” is hardly inspiring, but it is a very realistic and captivating portrayal of human nature. This is a story for people who want to learn about people; it may shatter some illusions of our greatness. Due to its depressing content, the story is hard to like, but it is definitely worthwhile and a work of art.

“The Short, Happy Life of Francis Macomber” by Ernest Hemingway is a story about both coming of age and the flaws of the upper class of his society. In this story, the author seems to make a wish for an increased pursuit of manhood in his society and decreased reliance on wealth and power. A man’s power lies within his soul, not his wallet, and Francis Macomber learns these lessons the hard way.


Mock Security Crisis Media Report for National Youth Leadership Forum on Defense, Intelligence, and Diplomacy

October 18, 2001

During the mock crisis in which 20 high school students participated, all with different roles: some were problem-solvers and some were problem-causers. (Skip to the last paragraph for that.) I was the media member working back channels and running between Cabinet departments to get the story straight for the American people the next morning. I aced it, but alas my work was undone by technology: I had to hastily hand-write the report so it could be copied and distributed the next morning. No one could read my cursive [no surprise for those of you who have seen it before], and I was not given the opportunity to read my media report aloud until after Congress had voted on the Executive Branch’s resolutions. Well, surely I’m not the first journalist to suffer such a fate.

Soon after revealing his foreign policy objective to the American public, the President was bombarded with crises in both the foreign and domestic spheres. Within two hours, President Smith faced reports that North Korea had nuclear weapons, an unidentified terrorist cell had kidnapped U.S. civilians and soldiers in Azerbaijan, Russia had initiated military action in Armenia, and there were crippling environmental protests in California. Also, his relationships with several key Cabinet members broke down. The sheer scope of the action had the government working through the night.

At press time, the government says reports of nuclear weapons in North Korea and the terrorist cells are unconfirmed. The U.S. Navy is sending aircraft carriers to North Korea to guard against attack and ensure the superiority of American forces. The National Security Advisor confirmed reports of an Islamic Uzbek terrorist cell within Bahir, the capital of Azerbaijan. The explosion of a facility within the capital was connected to the group. A member of al-Qaeda is suspected to be with them.

Elsewhere in Azerbaijan, four U.S. citizens, two members of special forces and two civilians, were captured. Two of them are assumed dead. These reports come from an intelligence report given to the Washington Times-Herald and confirmed by the Department of Defense. Russia and Armenia are performing joint training exercises outside Azerbaijan’s border, and Russia has occupied Armenia and Azerbaijan with peacekeeping forces according to the State Department’s intelligence reports.

These developments shelved initial U.S. plans to send 150 Rangers to the Caucasus to train local fighters in military and defense procedures. These and other U.S. actions in the area would be paid for by the national emergency monetary fund, according to Congress. The government is already in deficit.

Early in the day, environmentalists protested U.S. speculation of Alaskan oil by parking their vans in the Los Angeles freeway and deflating their tires. According to the Speaker of the House, over 400 people caught in traffic called and complained. The governor of California sent the National Guard to quell the situation.

Recent events also exposed a lack of unity among the President’s staff. State Department officials, disgruntled because of the President’s supposed reliance on military action, accused the Department of Defense of a homosexual scandal; Defense officials went to the White House and accused the President of having an affair with his Chief of Staff, calling him unprintable things; the FBI Director poured ice down a noted Senator’s pants. It was a bad day all around in Washington, but the President is working hard to remedy the situation.