The two short stories “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” and “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” by Ernest Hemingway, were both published in 1936, and deal with the confrontation of death and male changes provoked by extreme situations. In the following these two stories are being compared and analysed, as to the question whether they are of fundamental differences or basically one story told in two ways.
In order to compare the two stories, it might be interesting to have a look at not only Hemingways' biography, which is influenced by him being a member of the lost generation, but also at the ideological background at Hemingways' time. This is that these stories can be related to the world view of existentialism. Having the freedom of decision and being responsible for your own fate, are main lines of thought in existentialism. “To be is to do” as Sartre calls it, indicating that you can change and develop by the things you do. However, this freedom of decision is sometimes not viewed as fully positive, for this responsibility can be rather a burden that weighs on you. This idea can be related to both of Hemingways' stories. To begin with, it is of importance to take a closer look at the setting of the two stories. Both take place in the african plains and deal with couples who are on a safari trip. The nature and the environment have an eminent effect on the characters, for it is this wildness and uncivilized ambience, which put the protagonists in these extreme situations.
Through hunting wild animals and facing a lion, Francis Macomber is confronted with death. In “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” Harry occurs to develop a gangrenous wound from a thorn prick, which causes his death. Both characters would not have gotten in such a situation at home.
Whether these stories have more in common or are quite different depends on the angle under which you are examining them. If you look at the characters as such, you’ll find them to be quite different. Harry is a writer and seems to have experienced a lot in life, which is revealed in his flashbacks. Being involved in war and experience the pain and sorrow of love, provides him with topics for fictional treatments. In contrast, Francis Macomber is a businessman, leads a rather simple life and turns out to be a coward. Being described as “fit”, “handsome”, “tall” and “well-built” has already a certain irony to it.