In this "slice of life story," what appears to be a normal incident of a child's falling ill becomes, instead, a monumental moment in the psyche of the boy Schatz because of a misconception.
Initially, the father/narrator is alarmed when his son comes into the parents' bedroom in order to shut their windows, the draft of which he must have felt. Telling his son to return to bed because he looks ill, the father calls the doctor. His first concern is how ill the boy is because he asks the doctor what his son's temperature is. When the physician replies, "One hundred and two," the father knows that this is not an alarming temperature and with medication and bedrest, the boy will recuperate.
Therefore, the father's main concern is that his son rest and take his medicine in order to get well. When he sees that all the boy's physical needs are met, he relaxes some. Unfortunately, in their dialogue--
"Why don't you try to go to sleep? I'll wake you up for the medicine,"
"I'd rather stay awake.....You don't have to stay in here with me, Papa, if it bothers you."
"it doesn't bother me."
"No, I mean you don't have to sty if it's going to bother you"--
there is tremendous misunderstanding. For, Schatz believes he is dying, while the father merely thinks that with a fever, his son is "perhaps a little lightheaded." Sadly, then, the father leaves and hunts for a time, allowing the boy to rest. However, poor Schatz, who believes his temperature is in Celsius and he is going to die, grapples with his personal existential crisis that, even when it is resolved, leaves him "very slack" and shattered because he "cried very easily at little things that were of no importance."