A Day’s Wait


Ernest Hemingway

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Themes and Colors
Silence and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Masculinity and Heroism Theme Icon
Maturity and Innocence Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in A Day’s Wait, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Silence and Miscommunication

In “A Day’s Wait,” a sick nine-year-old boy, called “Schatz” (German for “darling” or “treasure”) by his father, confuses Fahrenheit with Celsius and imagines that his temperature is fatally high. This false assumption is left uncorrected for an entire day as the boy fearfully waits to die. His father, meanwhile, spends the day enjoying himself outside, utterly unaware of the terror his son is facing. Hemingway’s short story is thus a tragedy of…

read analysis of Silence and Miscommunication

Masculinity and Heroism

The book that the father reads to his son in “A Day’s Wait” is notably a book about pirates—men who embody toughness, bravery, and absolute autonomy; who chase after danger and meet death with pride and refuse to show weakness until the last. The mention of this book suggests that the boy is following the example of famous male heroes when he forces himself to be so stoic in the face of supposed death…

read analysis of Masculinity and Heroism

Maturity and Innocence

In “A Day’s Wait,” the nine-year-old Schatz clearly attempts to emulate the adults around him. He approaches his impending “death” with a brave face that not only reflects the story’s conception of ideal masculinity, but further points to the child’s equation of growing up with a sense of stoic acceptance and lack of emotionality. His father, meanwhile, reveals a glaring ignorance of his son’s maturation, often treating the boy like a much younger child…

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