Literary elements are tools of authorship used in narratives; that is, they are tools for the construction of the plot and characters.
In his style of writing, Ernest Hemingway often limits some of these literary elements, such as dialogue or characterization. For instance, in "A Day's Wait" it is what is unspoken that is the cause of the boy's internal conflict, because the father is unaware that he has mistaken the doctor's temperature reading as being in degrees Celsius rather than in Fahrenheit. There is really no character who is the antagonist since there is no external conflict. Characterization is limited, as there are only three personages in this story: the father, his son, and the physician. (In the first sentence "we" implies the mother, but she is never mentioned again.) The doctor and the father are static characters; on the other hand, Schatz, who is the protagonist, is a dynamic character, as he is profoundly changed by his traumatic experience of believing that he will soon die.
Another literary element employed by Hemingway is the narrative method of minimalism. The father and son have brief exchanges, but the dialogue is fairly simple, and the story is only three pages. The mood of the story is one of distress, because Shatz believes he is going to die. Later, the father feels terrible that his son has misunderstood the temperature and been so distraught in thinking he would die while the father went hunting in the belief that there was nothing to really worry about. The father is especially distressed because Schatz has been traumatized by the experience:
...the next day it [the hold over himself] was very slack and he cried very easily at little things that were of no importance.
Finally, the setting is an important element in this story, because Schatz knows Celsius only because he has gone to school in France, where this temperature measurement is used.