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A Day's Wait

In: English and Literature

Submitted By erdemt
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A DAYS WAIT
A brief Analysis

The fateful misunderstanding
Obviously there is an invisible wall between father and his son. They talk about two different things, the father about the disease and the son about his death but they do not know that they misunderstand each other. This fateful misunderstanding appears in different scenes where the father and son talk about "it", meaning two different things. One example is when the father asks his son why he does not go to sleep.
"You don´t have to stay in here with me, Papa, if it bothers you." The son is talking about his death but does not mention his fear. He must be shocked when the father answers "It doesn't bother me".
Because the father does not know of the fear of his son there is no reason for him to explain that he won´t die. Instead he goes out to hunt. The boy must think that his father does not even care that he will die, but prefers going out to hunt.
This fateful misunderstanding happens another time, again Hemingway uses the word "it" to describe two different things.
Father: "It´s nothing to worry about." He means the fever. "Just take it easy."
Since the son always thinks of death he assumes his father tells him to take dying easy so he answers: "I am taking it easy".

The hunting scene
In the story "A Day´s Wait" there is a story in a story. In this part of the story the father goes out to hunt for a while while his son is in bed thinking about death. In the passage there is a description of nature which is covered with a "glassy surface": you can see it, but you cannot touch it. This is the same as in the story, the father sees that his son feels bad, but he does not know why. In the hunting scene the circle of life appears. The quails are shot by the father as long as he is able to catch them. They have to die, but some are able to escape. Between the father and nature there is an invisible wall (glassy surface) and between the father and his son there is an invisible wall, too.

The point of view
One interesting point in the story "A Day´s Wait" is the point of view which is very limited. Hemingway use the first-person narrator in this story because this way the father cannot read the boy´s mind and the reader is forced to see everything through the father´s eyes.

The theme
At the end of the story when the boy knows that he will not die he becomes his old self again: he starts to complain about little things that are of no importance just like before he thought he would die. This shows how death lets things appear in a different way, everything that seemed to be important before is not important anymore.

Looking at Hemingway´s biography we can find parallels between the story "A Day´s Wait" and the author´s real life. When Hemingway took part in Word War I he was wounded twice. When he was in hospital he heard the doctor talk about his health and since he did not know any better he thought he would have to die. His own fear, the behavior and the feelings in this situation Hemingway expresses through the character of the son. The boy only knows that you will die with a fever of 44 degrees but does not know that he lives in a country with different thermometers.

This also is the theme of the story: the innocence of a child. The boy would never talk about his feelings and fear, probably because he does not want other people to worry about him. He might not want to hurt them.

The question arises why the boy does not want to sleep. The father does not worry about it, because he knows there is nothing to worry about, but the son maybe does not want to miss how it feels to die since he really believes he has to die. He does not know if it hurts and since death means endless sleeping he might be afraid that he will never wake up again.

I personally like the story because it shows how a bad or difficult situation can chance to influence a person´s life. It becomes clear that especially children need the help of adults to understand what death and illness means. We learn that we have to help children to grow up and that we have to help them to understand the world around them, because as we can see in this story without the help they worry too much about things that they do not have to worry about

A DAYS WAIT

"A Day's Wait"
The story opens as a father discovers that his 9-year-old boy, Schatz, has a fever. The father sends for the doctor and he diagnoses a mild case of influenza. As long as the fever doesn’t go above 104 degrees, the doctor says, the boy will be fine, and he leaves three different types of medication for the father to administer with instructions for each. Schatz’s temperature is determined to be 102 degrees.
When the doctor leaves, the father reads to Schatz from a book about pirates, but the boy is not paying attention and is staring fixedly at the foot of the bed. His father suggests he try to get some sleep, but Schatz says he would rather be awake. He also says that his father needn’t stay in the room with him if he is bothered. His father says he isn’t bothered, and after giving him his 11 o’clock dose of medication, the father goes outside.
It is a wintry day with sleet frozen onto the countryside, and the father takes the family’s Irish setter out hunting along a frozen creek bed. Both man and dog fall more than once on the ice before they find a covey of quail and kill two. The father, pleased with his exploits, returns to the house.
Upon returning home, he finds that Schatz has refused to let anyone into his room because he doesn’t want anyone else to catch the flu. The father enters anyway and finds the boy still staring at the foot of the bed. He takes Schatz’s temperature and finds it 102, as before. He tells Schatz his temperature is fine, and not to worry. Schatz says he’s not worrying, but he is thinking. When the father gives Schatz his medication, Schatz asks if he thinks the medication will help, and the father answers affirmatively.
After attempting to interest Schatz in the pirate book and failing, the father pauses, whereupon Schatz asks him when the father thinks Schatz will die. It emerges that Schatz has heard at school in France that no one can live with a temperature above 44, so Schatz thinks he is sure to die with a temperature of 102. He has been waiting to die all day.
After the father explains the difference between Fahrenheit and Celsius, Schatz relaxes, letting go of his iron self-control and the next day he allows himself to get upset over little things.
ANALYSIS
“A Day’s Wait” deals with the familiar Hemingway theme of heroic fatalism or fatalistic heroism, namely courage in the face of certain death. It is a testament to Hemingway’s skill and his dedication to this theme that he can make fatalistic heroes out of 9-year-old boys as easily as out of middle-aged has-been prizefighters on the run from gangsters and 76-year-old Spanish war refugees. The tragedy in this story is not, of course, that the hero Schatz is doomed, but that he believes himself to be doomed when he is in fact fine.
Schatz’s heroism is quietly but strikingly demonstrated in his words and actions over his day’s wait. The most dramatic manifestation of Schatz’s heroism is the difference between his demeanor during the day described by the story and his demeanor the next day. The narrator says “He was evidently holding tight onto himself about something” before the father goes out hunting, and when Schatz realizes he will be fine, “The hold over himself relaxed too, finally, and the next day it was very slack and he cried very easily at little things that were of no importance.” The little boy is stoic in the face of what he believes will be certain death; he holds his emotions in with iron self-control all day, and even suggests that his father leave the room if he is distressed to see his son dying. He also forbids anyone to come into his room out of concern for their health, even though by doing so he condemns himself to die alone.
Aside from Schatz’s own behavior, the other element of the story that makes Schatz’s heroism striking is the behavior of his father, which unintentionally worsens Schatz’s mental turmoil. Shortly after Schatz suggests that his father need not stay with him if the spectacle of his son’s death will bother him, the father leaves the house for hours to enjoy himself in the winter sunshine with the family dog, a gun, and a covey of quail. The juxtaposition of the father’s enjoyment with Schatz’s self-controlled, tragic, and solitary stoicism sharpens the reader’s sense of Schatz’s heroism.
Most Hemingway scholars believe the narrator of this story, though unnamed, is actually Nick Adams, Hemingway’s semi-autobiographical character who appears in a series of stories. Hemingway’s official biographer Carlos Baker was the first to make this claim, and the fact that original manuscripts for “Fathers and Sons,” one of Hemingway’s confirmed Nick Adams stories, calls Adams’s boy “Schatz” seems to clinch the mater.…...

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