A Day’s Wait


Ernest Hemingway

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on A Day’s Wait can help.

Book of Pirates Symbol Analysis

Book of Pirates Symbol Icon

The book that the father reads to his son, Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates, symbolizes the hypermasculine conventions that boys learn to emulate from a young age. Pirates are rough, uncivilized figures who embody toughness, bravery, and independence; they chase after danger, meet death with pride, and refuse to show weakness. No solicitous doctors pay visits to their ships; nobody indulges them with a day abed. However, it is telling that this way of life, these fearless and solitary outlaws of the seas, had become almost wholly obsolete by the time that Pyle’s romanticized tales and Hemingway’s story were published. Hemingway exposes the harm of outdated standards of masculinity like toughness and self-assurance when these ideals lead the boy to practice damaging emotional restraint and fatalistic martyrdom, and his father to practice blind and harmful paternalism.

Book of Pirates Quotes in A Day’s Wait

The A Day’s Wait quotes below all refer to the symbol of Book of Pirates. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Silence and Miscommunication Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribner edition of A Day’s Wait published in 1987.
“A Day’s Wait” Quotes

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

“About what time do you think I’m going to die?” he asked.


“About how long will it be before I die?”

Related Characters: The Father (speaker), Schatz (The Son) (speaker)
Related Symbols: Book of Pirates
Page Number: 334
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire A Day’s Wait LitChart as a printable PDF.
A Day’s Wait PDF

Book of Pirates Symbol Timeline in A Day’s Wait

The timeline below shows where the symbol Book of Pirates appears in A Day’s Wait. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
“A Day’s Wait”
Silence and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Masculinity and Heroism Theme Icon
Maturity and Innocence Theme Icon
...the father offers to read aloud to his son from a book called Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates . He notes that the boy’s “face was very white,” and that he “seemed very... (full context)