In the story, the narrator goes into school and doesn't do something that normal school children do, yet leaving school, he feels different. How? 

In the first half of the story, it's one day of school. In the second half it's a lifetime.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Although this short short story is called "Half a Day ," it really spans a lifetime. In the first part of the story, we are told in vivid detail of a boy being walked by his father to his first day of school. We see what the boy is...

This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

wearing and hear the words of wisdom the father offers about the importance of schooling.

Once there, events seem to blur into more than one day. We learn that:

It was not all a matter of playing and fooling around. Rivalries could bring about pain and hatred or give rise to fighting. And while the lady would sometimes smile, she would often scowl and scold. Even more frequently she would resort to physical punishment.

Is this one day or series of school days?

At the end of the first half day—or a series of days—the boy is let out of school and awaits his father, but no father comes. The city is also changed, bigger, more crowded, and more noisy. At the end of the story, the school boy is greeted as "grandpa."

The story is an allegory of life. Life takes years to live, day by day, but once you get older, it seems as is if it went by in a flash. Despite the reality of decades of physical time, the first day of school can remain a vivid memory that seems like yesterday and as if all the intervening years never happened. This is what the old man is experiencing. This is what all of us experience from time to time once we get to a certain age—and we don't have to be very old for this to occur. Even a teenager can look back at a childhood memory that feels like yesterday. Time is not as simple as it seems, and this story conveys that truth.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

After the bell sounds and the speaker leaves school, having said goodbye to friends, he is puzzled because he can find no trace of his father, who had promised to meet him at the end of his day. He is confused by meeting a middle-aged man who he realises that he knows, and then even more shocked by the changes that he sees in his surroudings. Note the rhetorical questions that are used to emphasise the speaker's feelings of amazement, confusion and feeling overwhelemed:

Good Lord! Where was the street lined with gardens? Where had it disappeared to? When did all these vehicles invade it? And when did all these hordes of humanity come to rest upon its surface?

The sights that the narrator sees cause his head to spin and he feels "in a daze", until a young man comes across to him and says "Grandpa, let me take you across", ending the story and clarifying what the reader has by now already guessed - much more time has passed than in the "Half a Day" of the title.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team