A Day's Wait

This study guide will help you analyze the text “A Day’s Wait” (1933) by Ernest Hemingway. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on summary, plot and structure, characterization, and themes.

Excerpt from the study guide:


When the father returns, he finally discovers why the boy seemed so distant and why he acted strangely. Schatz was convinced he was going to die of high fever as he assumed his temperature was 102 degrees Celsius and not Fahrenheit. Also, it is only at this point that the readers also realize the plot of the story:

““About what time do you think I’m going to die?” he asked.
“About how long will it be before I die?”
“You aren’t going to die. What’s the matter with you?”” (p. 141, ll. 41-44)

Falling action

The father explains the boy that he misunderstood the temperature scale and that he is not going to die, making an analogy with miles and kilometers:  

““Absolutely,” I said. “It’s like miles and kilometers. You know, like how many kilometers we make when we do seventy miles in the car?”
“Oh,” he said.” (p. 142, ll. 11-13)


The boy is finally relived and goes back to acting like a normal child the next day, crying. Notice that the resolution is very brief and to the point: “The hold over himself relaxed too, finally, and the next day it was very slack and he cried very easily at little things that were of no importance.” (p. 142, ll. 14-16)

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A Day's Wait

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