"A Day’s Wait" Short Story – A General Analysis

Regarding the plot of this short story, “A Day’s Wait” by Ernest Hemingway, and to obtain a general understanding, it involved a nine-year-old child named Schatz, his father, and his doctor. Schatz believed that he is going to die when the doctor told his father that he is suffering from a fever of 102 degrees.

The story took place before 9:00 a.m. one morning when Schatz walked into his father’s room looking ill and after 11:00 a.m. when his father returned from hunting and found him being uncooperative. The season is either fall or winter because of frozen ice on the ground. The story took place at Schatz’s residence and appeared to be in a country other than France by all indications. Contemporary time seemed evident from the story based on various references.

Schatz being diagnosed with a 102 degree temperate started the critical stage. His knowledge of the differences in the reading of the thermometers ended the critical stage. The story concluded when he realized he is not going to die from the high temperature. He returned to a calming state thereafter and cried at every little thing of no importance.

The structure of the story showed a very complicated process. The structural complication started when Schatz walked into his father’s room and moved slowly as if he were aching and appearing to be ill. The conflict occurred when his father touched his forehead and determined that Schatz had a fever.

 The crisis started when the doctor diagnosed Schatz with a fever of 102 degrees, treated him for influenza and prescribed medication. Schatz had the impression that he will die because of a belief he experienced in France when the boys there told him temperatures over forty-four degrees caused death. The ending of the crisis occurred when his dad told him about the differences in reading a thermometer. The climax occurred when he realized that he is not going to die. The resolution period occurred when he relaxed after realizing he is not going to die, and cried about everything of little or no importance.

Schatz characterization is that of a protagonist in the story. He displayed both positive and negative characteristics. He is a very determined nine year old child with a set mind. He displayed a strong will and seemed not easily shaken from his position. He has a good memory by recalling what the boys who attended school in France had told him about individuals dying from temperature above forty-four degrees.

Schatz could also be classified as an antagonist in this story. He fought to prevent himself from overcoming his illness. He appeared to be his own worst enemy. He believed everything he heard especially the story from the boys in France. He appeared to be a snotty nose brat who would not listen to his father, and reprimand his helpers at home in his father’s absence. He acted disobediently and shunned those who tried to help him.

The main movers in this story are Schatz’s father who eventually calmed him down and the doctor who had diagnosed Schatz’s with influenza, temperature above 102 degrees, and treated him with medication. The background people in this story are the schoolboys in France who planted the idea of death in Schatz’s mind. The people at his residence who tried to help him and whom he refused to let into the room after his father went hunting with his Irish setter dog are also movers. Howard Pyle’s reading from the Book of Pirates, and the unknown third party in the room with Schatz’s father (presumed parent) when he first entered and looking ill also moved the story along.

The sidekicks in this story are the people Schatz’s refused to let into his room after his father went hunting with his Irish setter dog. These individuals are probably servants who carried out the biddings of Schatz.

Regarding the theme, this story has several of them as follows. The first theme is “Don’t believe what you hear.” In this story Schatz believed what he had heard from the boys in France about a person dying when the temperate goes above forty-five degrees. He did not check out the facts, and as a result, he believed that he would die because his temperature is 102 degrees. The second theme is “Don’t’ give up so easily.” Schatz refused to fight his illness to the end. He gave up and is awaiting death because of his belief about the higher temperature. The third is, “After the storm there must be a calm.” We see Schatz reaching a state of calming down after he realized that he is not going to die. His calming down state of mind is a result of the differences in the temperature which his father explained to him after he learned about what the boys in France told his son about the temperatures above forty-five degree causing death.

The resolution occurred when Schatz returned to normal and accepted his father’s opinion and explanation regarding the difference in the temperature and the thermostat. He was once again friends with everyone and his life returned to normal. This is really an interesting short story by Ernest Hemingway, which spelled out all the corresponding elements quite clearly. 



Source by Joseph Spence, Sr.

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