Justify the title of the story"A Day's Wait" by Ernest Hemingway

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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A very appropriate and significant title, "A Day's Wait" has both denotative and connotative meanings.  As a "slice of life" story, the narrative takes place during a moment of life which should be fairly ordinary; however, Schatz's misinterpretation of reality magnifies for him the existential meaning of this one day.

For, while the father calmly waits on the boy's fever to diminish after the doctor has visited, reading to him about pirates--perhaps metaphoric for the concept of stealing--Schatz lies in bed wondering when death will steal his life from him because he has misinterpreted the severity of his fever by confusing Celsius degrees for Farenheit.  Thus for Schatz, this "day's wait" has been for death, and when his father leaves to go hunting since Schatz is really in no danger, the boy, having said "You don't have to stay in here with me...if it bothers you," believes that his father has left him because he cannot bear to watch him die.

Truly, a day's wait has made a life-changing difference in Schatz.  His gaze becomes "very slack" and "he cried very easily at little things that were of no importance."  And, most significantly, one day has irrevocably changed Schatz who has been so traumatized by his assumption of the approach of death. With all the fears that have attacked him in this delusion, Schatz loses his former sense of reality and becomes detached.

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