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Robert Wilson Analysis

In: English and Literature

Submitted By countryboy21
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Kenneth Young
ENG 112 (01)
October 26, 2014
Character Analysis of Robert Wilson Robert Wilson is one of the main characters in the short story “The Short, Happy Life of Francis Macomber” written by Ernest Hemingway. Robert Wilson is a professional hunter that guides hunts for animals in Africa, and Francis Macomber is one of his clients. At the beginning of the story, we think that Robert is a good man. He works with people doing the thing that he loves, he fought in World War I, and always gets his clients the things that they want. As we read the story more, we find out that he isn’t such a good man. Like everybody else, he has his good things and his bad things. The things however seem to balance each other out. He is conflicted by the things that he knows what is right and the things that he wants to do. The first good thing about Robert Wilson is his appearance. His appearance isn’t only the way he looks but the thing that he wears. “He was about middle height with sandy hair, a stubby mustache, a very red face and extremely cold, blue eyes with faint white wrinkles at the corners that grooved merrily when he smiled” (Hemingway, 2). In short terms, he is handsome. He has a red face from being out in the sun all day and eyes that are “both cruel and seductive at the same time” (Shmoop). He also is ready for anything that his job requires. He is ready for the hunt because he is “wearing old slacks, very dirty boots and a necklace of ammunition” (Shmoop). He doesn’t care what people think of him when he isn’t hunting. He is prepared for
Young 2 the hunt whenever the hunt calls. This is a good thing because it shows that he is prepared for anything that may happen. The next good thing about Robert Wilson is his courage. Being a hunting guide, you have to have courage. He has courage in times of danger and is willing to “finish the job” (Howard). The first time that we see him have courage in the face of danger is when the wounded lion charges. When the lion charges, Francis Macomber turns and is running for his life. As he is running, he hears the “ca-ra-wong! of Wilson’s big rifle, and again in a second crashing carawong!” (Hemingway, 12). When the lion charged, Francis was scared to death and running for his life. While Francis is running from the danger, Robert is literally waiting for the danger. He stands there and fires at the charging lion, killing it. Francis showed cowardice when he ran; Robert showed courage by staying put and killing the lion. The other example is when the water buffalo charges. The same thing is happening: Francis Macomber didn’t make a kill shot so the wounded animal has gone into a thick area of brush and can charge at any moment. This time when the buffalo charges, Francis finally grows a pair and stays where he is standing and fires at the charging buffalo. Robert on the other hand knows better than to stand still and “ducked to one side to get in a shoulder shot” (Hemingway, 22). When he ducks to one side to get in a better shot, he shows us that he also knew what to do in times of danger and keep his cool so that he could “finish the job” (Howard). The final thing about Robert Wilson is his bad actions. His actions indicates that he knows about the laws and what is illegal, but chooses to do his own thing. One example is when he yells at his servant, telling him that he’ll get fifteen of them. Francis Macomber goes on and asks Robert if he still has them whipped. “Oh yes.” said Wilson (Hemingway, 3). The whipping
Young 3 is illegal, but Wilson likes to do his own thing. The law says that he’s supposed to fine his workers but they don’t want to lose the money that they are working for. Going along with the theme that Robert knows the law and does his own thing, another one of his actions is when he is hunting the water buffalo. “Wilson likewise does not abide by the conventional rules for hunting game during safaris. Although there is a law against hunting game from vehicles, Wilson thinks that it’s far more exciting and dangerous to chase game at high speed” (CliffNotes). A man that knows the law and chooses to deliberately break it, especially one of this caliber, is an idiot and not a man of character or honor. He showed as much cowardice in these two instances as Francis did when he ran from the lion. This was an act of cowardice because Wilson didn’t have a backbone to tell the men working for him that they were fined instead of whipped. He also didn’t have a backbone to tell Francis to get out of the car and shoot. Both of these instances make Robert Wilson look less of a man. Robert Wilson was still a decent man. He earned a living doing the job that he loved, he fought in a world war for his country, and he had courage in times that was literally life or death. He was like everybody else: he had his good qualities and bad qualities. They seemed to balance each other because of how bad the bad qualities were. Like earlier, he knew the law, what was legal and illegal, knew the consequences if he was caught, and yet he still did them anyways. He seemed to not care about consequences regarding the law. Robert Wilson is conflicted by the things that he knows what is right and the things that he wants to do, and these characteristics define him as a decent person, but by no means a perfect person.

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Works Cited

“CliffNotes.” “Summary and Analysis of the Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.”
Hemingway, Ernest. “The Short, Happy Life of Francis Macomber.” Literature and Its Writers. Eds. Ann Charters and Samuel Charters. New York City: Bedford Books 2007.
Howard, Melissa. “Characters in Hemingway’s Short Story.” 7 Aug. 2009 <>
“Shmoop.” “Robert Wilson Character Analysis.” <>…...

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