The main theme of the short story “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” by Ernest Hemingway is bravery.
At the beginning of the story, Macomber is a coward. Wilson reflects that Macomber “had probably been afraid all his life.” (p. 17, ll. 49-50). During the hunt for the lion, when Macomber hears “the blood-choked coughing grunt” (p. 10, l. 41), and sees “the swishing rush in the grass” (p. 10, ll. 41-42), he panics and reacts without thinking: “The next thing he knew he was running; running wildly, in panic in the open, running towards the stream.” (p. 10, ll. 42-42). His shameful retreat is met with the contempt of the gun-bearers (p. 10, ll. 50-54) and that of his wife. Margaret distances herself from him, making it plain that she does not want to comfort him (p. 10, ll. 62-64). Instead, she kisses Wilson right in front of Macomber (p. 10, ll. 61-68). Margaret’s gesture suggests that she renounces her husband for being a coward and chooses Wilson for his bravery.
Macomber is afraid not only of the lion, but also of his wife. Even though Margaret is repeatedly unfaithful to him, he is unable to make her stop and does not have the courage to leave her. This is why Margaret does not take him seriou...