The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber

by

Ernest Hemingway

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber can help.

Kongoni and the Swahili guides, gun-bearers, and servants Character Analysis

Lurking discontentedly in the background of the text are the Swahili-speaking men who assist with the safari and preparation for the hunt: cooks, gun-bearers, guides, and other servants, some only young boys. (Only one, “Kongoni,” is directly named, perhaps because he is the most senior of the servants.) But none of these characters, including Kongoni, receive any dialogue, internal or external. These figures are subject to violent punishment from their superiors, the white hunters, and general scorn and disgust. Both Robert Wilson and Francis Macomber demonstrate indifference and even downright cruelty toward the natives. “The hell with him,” Macomber says, referring to a boy who “understands a little English,” after complaining about the “filthy food” the servants have offered. Wilson, for his own part, discusses beating the servants—showing no remorse for these violent actions—and notes that “you don’t want to spoil” the servants by giving them large tips. As a result, the Swahili servants are often described as bearing sullen or downtrodden expressions. These brief expressional details are the only characterization of the servants available to readers. It could be suggested that by diminishing these figures, Hemingway is pointing to the way in which the British empire treated African natives: as mere bodies or objects. However, it is also possible that their silence within the text reflects Hemingway’s own colonialist views. Their voices and struggles, it seems, are not as valuable to Hemingway as the perspectives and problems of the spotlighted white characters—even in the context of the natives’ own country and hunting traditions.

Kongoni and the Swahili guides, gun-bearers, and servants Quotes in The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber

The The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber quotes below are all either spoken by Kongoni and the Swahili guides, gun-bearers, and servants or refer to Kongoni and the Swahili guides, gun-bearers, and servants . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Masculinity, Dominance, and Courage Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribner edition of The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber published in 1987.
The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber Quotes

But that night after dinner and a whisky and soda by the fire before going to bed, as Francis Macomber lay on his cot with the mosquito bar over him and listened to the night noises it was not all over. It was neither all over nor was it beginning. It was there exactly as it happened with some parts of it indelibly emphasized and he was miserably ashamed at it. But more than shame he felt cold, hollow fear in him. The fear was still there like a cold slimy hollow in all the emptiness where once his confi­dence had been and it made him feel sick. It was still there with him now.

Related Symbols: The Lion
Page Number: 10-11
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber PDF

Kongoni and the Swahili guides, gun-bearers, and servants Character Timeline in The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber

The timeline below shows where the character Kongoni and the Swahili guides, gun-bearers, and servants appears in The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber
Race, Violence, and Empire Theme Icon
...that nothing has happened. They decide to have gimlets, which they order from a “ mess boy .” Macomber wonders what he should give the boy for payment, and Wilson tells him... (full context)
Masculinity, Dominance, and Courage Theme Icon
In a flashback, Macomber is carried to his tent from the hunting ground by some African servants and hunting assistants in a celebratory parade. After the parade, they congratulate him. He shakes... (full context)
Masculinity, Dominance, and Courage Theme Icon
Race, Violence, and Empire Theme Icon
Guilt and Morality Theme Icon
...all the servant boys know about “it” now. Speaking Swahili, he snaps at one, Macomber’s personal boy , who is looking strangely at Macomber. The boy turns away. When Macomber asks what... (full context)
Guilt and Morality Theme Icon
Men and Nature Theme Icon
...the lion head into the grass. He feels sick and finds Wilson, Margot, and the gun-bearers, who look very grave. Macomber, Wilson, and the assistants head out to find the injured... (full context)
Masculinity, Dominance, and Courage Theme Icon
...approach the lion. Macomber takes a drink of water from the canteen of an older gun-bearer, whom he notices is afraid too. (full context)
Masculinity, Dominance, and Courage Theme Icon
Wilson, Macomber, and the gun-bearers enter the grass, listening closely, rifles cocked. Macomber hears the lion’s grunt, sees its body... (full context)
Masculinity, Dominance, and Courage Theme Icon
A gun-bearer approaches and informs Macomber and Wilson that the first bull was only wounded: he got... (full context)
Masculinity, Dominance, and Courage Theme Icon
Macomber, Wilson, and a gun-bearer get out of the car. The gun-bearer says to Wilson in Swahili that the buffalo... (full context)
Masculinity, Dominance, and Courage Theme Icon
Guilt and Morality Theme Icon
...“unpleasantness” to come by having photographs taken for the inquest and providing testimony from the gun-bearers and the driver: she will be “perfectly all right.” Margot tells him to stop, but... (full context)