While Schatz thinks he is dying, his father goes out to hunt. How does this contrast with how the father might have acted if he, too, were afraid that Schatz was going to die in "A Day's Wait" by...

While Schatz thinks he is dying, his father goes out to hunt. How does this contrast with how the father might have acted if he, too, were afraid that Schatz was going to die in "A Day's Wait" by Ernest Hemingway?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hemingway's "A Day's Wait" centers around Schatz's misunderstanding and the trauma this creates within him. Had his father understood what his son believes, the boy's trauma may have been avoided, but his father appears to be uncomprehending of his child's condition. Therefore, one must wonder how he would have acted if the boy's condition were life-threatening.

When his father goes out to hunt while knowing Schatz has a temperature that is one hundred and two, he does not seem worried about Schatz's condition. In fact, he might believe leaving him alone to sleep will provide his son the atmosphere he needs. When he returns and sees Schatz staring with his cheeks flushed with fever, he takes his temperature again and finds it is still one hundred and two. He tells his son not to worry. When Schatz asks if drinking the water will do him any good, his father does not perceive his anxieties. Instead, he picks up the book he has been reading, and it is only then that the father notices something is bothering Schatz.

I sat down and opened the Pirate book, and commenced to read, but I could see he was not following, so I stopped.

Since Schatz's father does not display the concern one would expect from a parent whose child's temperature is only two degrees from a dangerous level and the boy has not slept and is obviously uncomfortable and traumatized, it is difficult to assume what he would do if he thought his son was dying. He does not seem to fear the child having convulsions or other complications from a 102-degree fever. He simply picks up a book to resume reading to his son.

The reader must hope the man has enough sense to be afraid for his child's life and stay with him and act to reduce his temperature by bathing him in cool water. Above all, he should phone the doctor again and obtain his advice. He should also feel guilty because his crassness and lack of observation is what causes poor Schatz to be traumatized by his fear of dying because he thinks his temperature is given in degrees Celsius.