The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber Review

“If a four-letter man marries a five-letter woman, he was thinking, what number of letters would their children be?”

 

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The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber is of Ernest Hemingway’s most celebrated short stories. It uses thematic elements better than almost any story I’ve ever found jealousy, fear, courage, and contempt are all present in this fine work. With his visceral simplicity, Hemingway examines what makes a man and the constraints of the individual from their social structure.

This story follows the titular character on his first safari. He is put in a dangerous situation and proves himself a coward. After facing the scorn of his guide and the fellow hunters, he resends whilst on another hunt. He rises to the occasion and grows as a person saving one of his peer’s life. His wife feels her power over him leaving and then kills him. The relationship between the guide, Wilson and Francis is examined in detail. The victim is painted as neither the wife nor Francis, but as the Francis.

The depths of the interpersonal relationships in this story are fabulous. The tangled net that is the Francis, his wife and Wilson shows the growth of the main character and the flaws of the others involved. The author poured himself into the story and it provides another example of the intensity with which Hemingway writes.

 

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“Macomber opened the breech of his rifle and saw had metal-cased bullets, shut the bolt and put the rifle on safety. He saw his hand was trembling”

 

 

 

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Cody Jemes is the co-host of the recently revived Bored Shenanigans podcast. Our newest series “Story Time” is available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry by downloading his latest e-book here. Be sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.

Old Man at the Bridge Review

“‘Did you leave the dove cage unlocked?’” I asked.
‘Yes.’
‘Then they’ll fly.’
‘Yes, certainly, they’ll fly.’”

 

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Old Man at the Bridge is one of shortest works by Ernest Hemingway. Originally published in 1938 in Ken Magazine and republished in the collection The First Forty Nine Stories.  Often noted for the economical use of character development and the overall theme of what constitutes duty.

Written during his coverage of the Spanish Civil War, it tells the story of an old man fleeing his home town during artillery fire. Upon seeing the old man laying on a bridge the author asks about his well being. The exasperated old man tells about how he was responsible for the taking care of the animals after the town is evacuated.  He feels guilty about abandoning his duties and fleeing the twelve kilometers that have left him in his current state. The author encourages him to relocate to where the buses can take him to safety and the man reluctantly contemplates this. In the end, the writer observes that the animals may have survived, but the old man probably will not.

Sad irony and humanizing the victims of war reverberate throughout this text. You can feel Hemingway’s empathy for the old man. He doesn’t wish poorly upon him, but he cannot help seeing the situation as it is. A dark, humorous tale of survival and duty. Hemingway signature candor carries a depressing story and forces the reader to think.

 

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“It was Easter Sunday and the fascists were advancing towards Ebro.”

 

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Cody Jemes is the co-host of the recently revived Bored Shenanigans podcast. Our newest series “Story Time” is available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry by downloading his latest e-book here. Be sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook. 

The Snows of Kilimanjaro Review

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Sweet hell is this story depressing. If you’re in the mood for a light hearted romp filled with laughs and joy, look elsewhere. Even with saddening subject matter this short story by Ernest Hemingway is absolutely superb. The book follows Harry, a man dying of gangrene who is on safari with his wife. As death approaches he reflects on key moments in his life.

It is clear that the author sees himself through the protagonist’s eyes in this story. He has had a good life, but wonders deeply of the choices he has made in the past to deliver him to his current status. He highlights a series of regrets and decisions that are so specific, they must have deeply plagued Hemingway. By pouring so much of himself into the text, the author shows his own humanity. Though the lead character is permeated with flaws he is instantly relatable. His intentions are good, he just didn’t always show nobility in their execution.

My favorite part of this short story was the relationship between Harry and his wife, Helen. It shows how messy and chaotic long term love is. Though the time the reader spends with them is brief, it is apparent that their compassion for one another is genuine. No line of dialogue is wasted between these two, even when quarreling they still deeply care for one another. It shows the kind of bond that exists only in a long term, loving relationship.

Even if it is a downer, this is the best way I’ve spent a lunch break in quite some time. I was genuinely saddened when this was over, but the candor it showed at someone’s final moments was extremely powerful. It elicited tears from me and I have no shame in saying that. This might be the finest gem I’ve discovered during this series. I encourage you all to read this, I’ve attached a link to it here.

 

Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans podcast available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry blog here  or download his e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.