The little boy nicknamed "Schatz" handles his illness with stoicism. He keeps it a secret that he has overheard the doctor saying that he has a fever of 102 degrees. The reader might guess that the little boy has picked up his father's beliefs about acting with courage in dangerous situations. It is significant that Hemingway tells his son a simplified version of his own attitude about showing courage in the following exchange:
"I don't worry," he said, "but I can't keep from thinking."
"Don't think," I said. "Just take it easy."
The narrator might be a soldier talking to a comrade in the trenches. There can be no doubt that this is a story about Hemingway's own son—that Hemingway was so impressed by the nine-year-old boy's display of courage that he wrote the story as a sort of tribute. If Schatz hadn't felt obliged to keep his knowledge and his fear a secret, one of his parents could have quickly explained the boy's mistake and put his mind at ease. It isn't until he asks his father how long he has to live that the narrator, Hemingway himself, understands the problem.
"About how long will it be before I die?"
"You aren't going to die. What's the matter with you?"
"Oh, yes, I am. At school in France the boys told me you can't live with forty-four degrees. I've got a hundred and two."
He had been waiting to die all day, ever since nine o'clock in the morning.