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This short story by Ernest Hemingway centers around the idea of miscommunication between parents and children. It also centers around the idea of the power behind the words of a parent.
"A Day's Way," begins with a young boy (nine-year-old) named Shatz. This boy contracts the flu in the evening one winter. A doctor comes to visit the home where the boy is living and confirms the diagnosis of the flu - although he acknowleges that it is only a mild case. The doctor does inform the the boy's father that Shatz's temperature is 102. Shatz overhears this conversation, and this is where the miscommunication between the father and the boy comes into play.
The father lays Shatz down in bed and begins to read an entertaining story about pirates to him. The father notices that Shatz seems both worried and distracted. Thinking the boy is still recovering from his sickness, the father suggests that Shatz close his eyes and go to sleep. Shatz refuses. His father continues reading the story for a while, and Shatz becomes a bit more aggitated and annoyed. He tells his father he can leave if, "it bothers [him]." The father find this strange.
However, the father does leave. He decides to give the boy some time (hopefully to fall asleep), and takes the family dog for a walk along a frozen stream. The dog begins chasing forest birds (quail) and the father kills a few to bring home before returning. The father returns to find Shatz still aggitated and white-faced near the end of the bed. The father takes Shatz's temperature again, and gives him his medicine. The temperature is still around 102, althoug the father tells Shatz that it is, "something around 100." The boy's aggitation continues, and suddenly Shatz asks, "About what time do you think I'm going to die?"
Shatz had heard, "At school in France the boys told me you can't live with forty-four degrees. I've got a hundred and two." The father now sees the miscommunication. Shatz had not yet learned about the difference between Farenheit and Celcius temperature. The father explains that they are different - comparing them to miles and kilometers. Shatz slowly begins to relax, and by the next day "he cried very easily at little things that were of no importance." Hemingway does not describe if this is the normal behavior of Shatz or if it is out the ordinary. He leaves the reader with a dark decision: has Shatz returned to himself and recovered from the flu? Or is declining from his fever and flu?
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