In "A Day's Wait" by Ernest Hemingway, how does the father sense Schatz's fear?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Schatz's father doesn't seem to have a clue just how worried his son is about the influenza from which he is suffering until late in the story. The father, who narrates the story, does see that the boy "seemed very detached from what was going on"; and that, instead of trying to sleep, Schatz stared "at the foot of the bed, looking very strangely." When Schatz tells his father that

"You don't have to stay in here with me, Papa, if it bothers you..."

the father simply attributes it to the boy being "lightheaded." Instead of staying with his son, the father decides to spend some time outside hunting, where he "flushed a covey of quail." When he returned from hunting, the father found his son in "exactly the position I had left him."

He was evidently holding tight onto himself about something.

It is only after Schatz asks "About how long will it be before I die" that the father recognizes the seriousness of Schatz's fears. Still, the father does not know the true reason until Schatz explains about his misunderstanding of his temperature: The doctor's diagnosis was in Fahrenheit, not the Centigrade scale as Schatz had wrongly assumed. Afterward assuring Schatz that he will not die, the father notices the next day that

... he cried very easily at little things that were of no importance.