Is it better to suffer in silence?- “A days wait”- short story by E. Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway was probably one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. He was known for his novels, eg. The Old Man and The Sea, or A Farewell to Arms. The story which we read today, was called “A days wait” and it is a text about bravery and suffering. The main character in the story is a 9 year old boy, who due to a misunderstanding thinks that he is dying. He tries to keep the pain to himself and doesn’t say that he is scared. In my opinion this is an act of bravery, especially because of his young age. I think it also isn’t that easy to open up to people about something important, and this topic is even more fragile. Opening up to someone is a hard thing even for me, but after a while I feel confident enough to talk about nearly everything. Of course it’s not as easy as it sounds.

EH 2723P  Milan, 1918 Ernest Hemingway, American Red Cross volunteer. Portrait by Ermeni Studios, Milan, Italy. Please credit "Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston".
EH 2723P Milan, 1918
Ernest Hemingway, American Red Cross volunteer. Portrait by Ermeni Studios, Milan, Italy. Please credit “Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston”.

The “Lost Generation” was the generation that came of age during World War I. The term was popularized by Ernest Hemingway, who used it in the story “The Sun Also Rises”. Hemingway, together with F. Scott Fitzgerald and Sherwood Anderson had a very influential style, which was both new and different back then. How he wrote his texts and the dialogs he made, were later a big influence to other writers.

Most of his work was an effect of real life experiences, for example the novel we read in class was based on something that has happened to him a few years earlier, when his own son mixed up the two scales and thought that he was really sick. In that way he used something that has actually happened in his work.

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According to cliffnotes.com, “Hemingway’s style is simple, direct, and unadorned, probably as a result of his early newspaper training. He avoids the adjective whenever possible, but because he is a master at transmitting emotion without the flowery prose, the effect is far more telling. Hemingway puts his emphasis on nouns because, among other parts of speech, they come closest to things. Stringing them along by means of conjunctions, he approximates the actual flow of experience.”

Hemingway has often been described as a master of dialogue, and many think that “this is the way these characters would really talk.” I totally agree with that. In the lines 65-83, we can read a short conversation between the child and his father. It consists of very short sentences and answers, furthermore, the speakers are not even trying to make the conversation sound important. This is exactly what Hemingway’s writing style is recognizable for. For instance, we read in the text:

(boy)     “Who said so?”
(father)  “The doctor.”

This is an example from the story of how Hemingway writes dialogues. In my opinion it is a great way of avoiding long, unnecessary sentences, and just including the most important information for the reader.

The main character of the story is a 9 year old boy, who lives with his father. The child is ill, but makes a much bigger deal of it than it actually is. However, we can see that he is trying to be brave and cope with the problem by himself, rather that talking with his dad which is a big act as for a child, but not a good reason to isolate himself from the rest of the people in the house. He doubts that the medicine will help, as he thinks he is going to die anyway due to the fever. Even so, we shouldn’t underestimate his attempts of not making a fuss of his situation. All of this shows how much courage this 9-year-old boy must have.

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As for the father, he is a little bit calmer than the child. Although, it might be because he isn’t aware of what is going on in his child’s mind. He has no idea that the 9 year old is so convinced that those are the last few hours of his short life. The dad does what a father is supposed to do- calls the doctor, gives medicine, checks up on him. But the thing he isn’t doing, is talking with his son, maybe the most important thing of all. Fortunately, the story ends happily and the boy has no more reasons to be worried.

Personally, I have read a few short stories/novels by Ernest Hemingway, and every single time I am very satisfied by them. I must admit that he was one of the most influential writers of all times.

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