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ELee
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"The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber"

Question: Was it accidental or intentional?
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fanuzzir
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Murder Two

ELee, thank you for breaking. this story out of the African thread. C'mon everybody! Pay attention to this potboiler of an African safari tale. If you loved Charles Dance and Gretta Sacchi in White Something, I forgot the title of the movie, you'll love this story. I definitely think it was murder. Relationships come apart on the savannah. They stay together in train stations.
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Re: "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber"



ELee wrote:
Question: Was it accidental or intentional?




A trully shakespearean question.

I read this story just before going to sleep and that wasn't a good idea. I had a hell of a safari kind of night, all beasts chasing me or I them (I can't even remember it all) but upon awakening I was rather exhausted. So listen to me and do not feed this story to your psyche late in the day.

Otherwise it sounds like the ultimate warning against all things female.
Killing comments like that one about her oval face, ack. Macomber was a good lion, indeed, better shoot him. I think I need a gimlet before we'll go on talking about this story some more.

ziki
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shoot



fanuzzir wrote: Relationships come apart on the savannah. They stay together in train stations.




Could you please expound some more on this theory of yours? There must be other possibilities yet unexplored. ;-)

Message: never go to shoot lions in Africa especially when your marriage is on the rocks.

Yes, it was a murder, no doubt....but the whole trick was-is, it didn't look like one. See how Memsahib fooled even ELee? She didn't fool me: men and women are scaryscared animals...and the things they do! I need one more gimlet to digest this story, that's for sure.

ziki
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Mr and Mrs Elliot

In what way was the relationship of Elliots different to the one of Macombers? And in what way not?

ziki
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ELee



ELee wrote:
Question: Was it accidental or intentional?




ELee I just noticed, what an accurate icon you chose!

ziki
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chadadanielleKR
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Re: "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber"


ELee wrote:
Question: Was it accidental or intentional?


I'm am not sure she killed her husband in cold blood but it turned out this way. She might unconsciously have wanted to get rid of him and then it just happened. She just got rid of the whole story: "her husband running after the lion"
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bentley
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Very Intentional

[ Edited ]

chadadanielleKR wrote:

ELee wrote:
Question: Was it accidental or intentional?


I'm am not sure she killed her husband in cold blood but it turned out this way. She might unconsciously have wanted to get rid of him and then it just happened. She just got rid of the whole story: "her husband running after the lion"


From my view, it was definitely intentional. I had a bad feeling when he looked back at her and waved and she was standing there with the rifle and didn't wave back.

She had become quite unsure of herself as well because she saw how her husband had changed. Hemingway hinted what was going to happen when he told the reader that Margot's contempt was not secure and she was afraid of something. What she was afraid of and became more sure of was that Francis would divorce her when they got back.

Margot stated bitterly: "Isn't it sort of late." (supposedly alluding to his new found bravery and coming of age) and Hemingway then filled in the blanks saying "Because she had done the best she could for many years back and the way they were together now was not one person's fault."

But Francis's response at that time sealed his tragic fate when he said, "Not for me."

Their sex life was alluded to on different levels in the story and it seemed most of it was from books rather than in practice. A very sad state that they found themselves in.

If Francis divorced her when they got back which he most assuredly would have done, she would have been an aging beauty and he would have been the best catch because of all of his money. Her lifestyle would have changed dramatically and his would have improved for the better. Her beauty and his money were what bound them together. Love did not play any part in it any longer. It had been dead a long time before the actual shooting in the story. At least Francis was happy for a short period of time knowing he had conquered his fears and had stood up for himself and had become a man who could be true to his convictions.

I loved the line (of course with dread) when Wilson said to Margot disgustedly, "Why didn't you poison him? That's what they do in England."

There is such a thin line between love and hate and most of the latter was seen in this story.

Message Edited by bentley on 02-14-200709:48 AM

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Re: Very Intentional

Yes, Francis found some self confidence all of a sudden (if we call it so) and being that sort of a man he would have divorced her. Memsahib knew that very well. She couldn't control him as easily, their mutual 'agreement' based on their weakness was broken. Now at least she kept the money...and perhaps Wilson if she wanted him so badly (but I doubt that). Wilson knew what this was about. Again: EH is a master at describing appearances but underneath it simply boils.

ziki
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bentley
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Re: Very Intentional


ziki wrote:
Yes, Francis found some self confidence all of a sudden (if we call it so) and being that sort of a man he would have divorced her. Memsahib knew that very well. She couldn't control him as easily, their mutual 'agreement' based on their weakness was broken. Now at least she kept the money...and perhaps Wilson if she wanted him so badly (but I doubt that). Wilson knew what this was about. Again: EH is a master at describing appearances but underneath it simply boils.

ziki




True Ziki...but I think the main reason for the murder was that she knew that she could not control him at all "any longer". And she did not want to be without the money, but I agree that she really was not after Wilson. He was convenient and it was also another way to get back at Francis and make him feel even more incompetent as a man.

Wilson was on to her from the very beginning and didn't care because he wasn't any "plaster saint" and he conveniently had the double cot anyways just in case he ever got lucky which he must have done very often if he carried the extra baggage around. And it doesn't seem like Hemingway liked American women very much either. They certainly weren't portrayed very well.

This story certainly doesn't leave you with a warm feeling (not a bedtime story - that is for sure).
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agreed

bentley, we are in agreement about this :-)
Welcome to BN!

ziki
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bentley
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Re: agreed

Thx and np..didn't think we weren't in agreement..:-)... but just elaborating on some other nuances I noticed....yes also new here and thank you very much for the welcome.
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ELee
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Americans

Bently wrote:

"I loved the line (of course with dread) when Wilson said to Margot disgustedly, "Why didn't you poison him? That's what they do in England.'"

Hemingway gave us a lot of information about "Americans" through the auspices of Robert Wilson. (For those of you also reading "The Good Soldier" this is a pertinent topic for that story as well [Americans viewing Americans through supposed European eyes?]) What do you make of Wilson's interpretation of "Americans"? As an American, what is Hemingway's motive for adopting this viewpoint in this story?
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fanuzzir
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Re: Very Intentional



bentley wrote:

ziki wrote:
Yes, Francis found some self confidence all of a sudden she couldn't control him as easily, their mutual 'agreement' based on their weakness was broken. .

ziki




True Ziki...but I think the main reason for the murder was that she knew that she could not control him at all "any longer". br>



Two fascinating quotes that jive with my impression: the wife hated him as a coward, but might well have incorporated his impotence into her own drama of herself. She hated him more as a hot-blooded male. Maybe she saw the falseness of it, the cheap predatory thrill he had bought himself by chasing down a poor animal. For me, the point is that Hemingway thought of women as bringing down men on a high. Now that high is cheap; he is always quick to point out that really weak men crow the loudest about their conquests. Does she come off as a moral corrective to hyper-masculine showing off or an unhinged harpie who ruined a male game?
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bentley
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Re: Very Intentional


fanuzzir wrote:

Two fascinating quotes that jive with my impression: the wife hated him as a coward, but might well have incorporated his impotence into her own drama of herself. She hated him more as a hot-blooded male. Maybe she saw the falseness of it, the cheap predatory thrill he had bought himself by chasing down a poor animal. For me, the point is that Hemingway thought of women as bringing down men on a high. Now that high is cheap; he is always quick to point out that really weak men crow the loudest about their conquests. Does she come off as a moral corrective to hyper-masculine showing off or an unhinged harpie who ruined a male game?




I think a lot of what you are saying here is on target. But I am not sure that Margot comes off as a moral corrective (I don't think she had many morals either) to hyper-masculine showing off. The males were showing off (I guess) except for Francis who at the beginning had more to hide with his actions than show off. No, I think she comes off as the portrayal that Hemingway was making of her: she was after Francis's money, she did not want him to divorce her because she may have been left with nothing or far less than she had..so being the opportunist she was..she saw the opportunity to get rid of him by making it appear like an accident which it was not.

As far as the unhinged harpie who ruined the male game...she was closer to that interpretation but then again I do not think she came unglued or unhinged...Like Wilson said she was not stupid...No..not stupid. She became very animalistic and was only looking out for herself and her survival. She did ruin the male game but for other reasons than by coming unhinged.

None of the characters were saints. Margot was cruel, calculating and immoral and deadly to the end. Wilson was indifferent, cold and calculating in his own way and an opportunist as well. Francis had more depth to him in terms of sensitivity but had proved himself a coward. But then again..knowing fear and danger when you see it is not necessarily always a bad thing. He did surmount his feelings of cowardice and fear and managed to grow as a human being in the story until his untimely murder.

Anyways...I did not think either choice was completely the right one (jmo) from my perspective after rereading the story. It was very interesting though thinking about these two interpretations...thank you for challenging our thinking.
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fanuzzir
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Re: Very Intentional

Of course, you're right: she has no morals of her own so she can't be a moral corrective. It is just her hatred of her husband that is surfacing at the end and making her a friend of the animals. She was also cooly rational, and not unhinged, as you say, because all the emotion leaves her at a certain point. That point could be found anywhere, I supposed. That moment when one's partner becomes intolerable. I don't want to know that moment, but Margot did.
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Teelyn
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Re: Very Intentional

I am really enjoying everyone's comments. This story is a great re-intro. for me to E. Hemingway; I've never been too impressed with him-- but then, I never read this story.

Not only do I think Margot's actions were intentional, for many of the reasons given,I also think, to some extent, Wilson subconsciously approved of her actions. Wilson didn't like Macomber's openness- talking about feelings and ideas that Wilson claimed one shouldn't discuss. Wilson didn't like Macomber's cowardice nor Macomber's role in his marriage e.g. Wilson- the morning after sleeping with Margot, prodes Macomber "Why not order her to stay in camp?" I think Wilson began to like the possibilities of what Macomber was becoming due to the buffalo hunt, but as he often thought "You most certainly could not tell a damned thing about an American."

Also, this murder will change Margot. I don't believe she will return home and live as a content rich widow. For her to kill her husband because of something she saw in him that she couldn't live with, she had to also recognize something in herself that she didn't like.
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Re: Very Intentional



Teelyn wrote: For her to kill her husband because of something she saw in him that she couldn't live with, she had to also recognize something in herself that she didn't like.




And what would that be the way you see it?

ziki
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Teelyn
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Re: Very Intentional

Hemingway's Margot seemed to lead a very shallow life, which was alright since Macomber was also a shallow man. But if he had time to grow, he might have dared to expect more from life, and from her. She knows she has little to offer besides beauty. Even Wilson knows it "That was a pretty thing to do. He would have left you too." To go as far as to kill her husband because his budding strength shows up her weakness was a serious thing for her. And her reaction tells me that it wasn't planned- impulsive actions like murder usually don't leave normal people unchanged.
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ELee
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Re: Very Intentional

Teelyn wrote
"Also, this murder will change Margot. I don't believe she will return home and live as a content rich widow. For her to kill her husband because of something she saw in him that she couldn't live with, she had to also recognize something in herself that she didn't like."

Very astute comment. I think there are degrees of guilt resulting from one's actions vs intentions. For a certain type of person, it might be possible to shoot with the subconscious wish to extinguish a situation that is out of control, but cover it up consciously by rationalizing that it was in defense against the charging water buffalo. I don't think Margot was that type of person. And I think her hysteria at the end indicated how much over the edge she had thrown herself. If she were a cool, calculating killer, why not play Wilsons game and come back with some witty verbal parry to his insinuations? No, Margot will pay...
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