What is the internal conflict in "A Day's Wait"?

Expert Answers

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

A Day's Wait is a short story about a young boy and his father. The character's names are not given, only that the father calls the boy, Schatz, which means darling. It is a touching story about a parent's love.

Schatz is a nine year old boy, who gets the flu. His father is worried and calls the doctor, who tells him he has a fever and that the flu is going around. He gives the father medicine and tells him that this seems like a mild case and the boy will be alright. The boy, on the other hand, stays in the bed and seems to be somewhere else. He doesn't concentrate when his father reads to him. He just lies listless in the bed.

The internal conflict of the story, is that Schatz believes he is going to die. In his mind, he is dying and he is just waiting for it to happen. His father knows he is not, but the boy is convinced he is.

Schatz: "About how long will it be before I die?

Father: " You aren't going to die. What's the matter with you?"

Schatz: "Oh, yes, I am. I heard him say a hundred and two.

Father: " People don't die with a fever of a hundred and two. That's a silly way to talk."

Schatz: " I know they do. At school in France the boys told me you can't live with forty four degrees. I've got one hundred and two."

This conversation takes place after Schatz hears the doctor say how high his fever is. Schatz then remembers what the school boys told him and this convinces him that he is dying. His father then goes on to tell him, the thermometers in France are different and he is going to be just fine.

This whole story really works on the power of the mind. Once Schatz convinces himself he is dying, then he just lies around and waits to die. The power of our mind is a magnificent thing. Hemingway is showing us that how we think, is usually how we live.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial