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 Hemingway exposes the harm of outdated standards of masculinity like toughness and self-assurance when these ideals lead the boy to practice damaging emotional restraint and fatalistic martyrdom,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
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?”