The marriage of Robert Preston and Joan Bennett isn’t exactly a happy one. Unable to perform, he lashes out at his wife with violence.
His “Short Happy Life” begins, when he decides to undergo the traditional initiation rite for rich homosexual men, involving being dominated by another man and the killing of animals – the less fortunate having to make do with watching sports games with other gay men, and dreaming about what takes place in the showers. At first, Gregory Peck suspects him of being bisexual, but as their relationship develops, they fall deeply in love, causing the sex-starved Bennett, even at one point making a pass at the understandably unresponsive Peck, to become increasingly frustrated.
When she catches the two men in a compromising situation, she shoots her husband. While mourning his lover, Gregory Peck lets himself be bribed to report the incident as an accident.
Hemingway considered this one of his best stories. It certainly summarizes his misogynistic philosophy rather neatly – women luring men into sordid affairs, estranging them from each other. One of the cornerstones of Nazi ideology, this kind of homoerotic romanticism has recently gained new popularity among Feminists and others on the Ultra-Right.