What is the meaning of the story title, "A Day's Wait"?
The title "A Day's Wait" refers to the time period in which a young boy learns the significant difference between Centigrade and Fahrenheit.
In the story, Schatz is afflicted with a bad case of influenza. He learns that his temperature is a hundred and two degrees. The doctor fails to mention, however, that this measurement of his temperature is in Fahrenheit. Unbeknownst to the doctor, the boy believes he is going to die; he does not realize that body temperatures can be measured in either Centigrade or Fahrenheit.
Fearing that his life is at an end, Schatz wills himself to remain stoic. He reigns in his emotions and tries to face death with courage. Schatz even forbids others from entering his room; he does not want anyone to catch what he has. Meanwhile, his white face testifies to his intense emotional struggle. It is only after his father apprises him of the truth that Schatz begins to relax. So, the title refers to the time period in which a young boy learns the importance of verified knowledge. Schatz comes to understand that there is a significant difference between Centigrade and Fahrenheit.
This wonderful short story by Ernest Hemingway details the illness suffered by young Schatz and his misunderstood seriousness of the diagnosis. Schatz overhears his doctor tell his father that his temperature is "102 degrees." Having attended school in Europe, he is not used to the Fahrenheit scale: Instead, he thinks the temperature is being calculated on the Celsius scale. Schatz realizes that no one could live long with a temperature of 102 degrees Celsius (beyond the boiling point), so he silently and patiently awaits his death during the day's long wait.