A Day's Wait:
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Posted by Behnaz Eskandari on June 14, 192001 at 17:40:37:

In Reply to: A Critique of Method - & A Plan (Part II) posted by L. Swilley on June 14, 192001 at 15:53:09:

: Wherever we go with our conclusions thereafter, our first step should be the examination of a single work, and the work examined in itself, in its essential argument, as though it were an excellent instructive essay, the parts of which are always complementary and always develop to a reasonable - in its own terms - conclusion.

: It is easy to find the mind of the essayist in his essay, it is simply *there* on the very surface of the work; there are no characters, the narrator *is* the author; the argument given is, by the very nature of the ssay, *what the essayist believes.*

: But it is not so easy to find the mind of the author in his work of fiction, for that mind is not composed only by the characters say and do, nor only by the attitude or colorations given those by the narrator, or the settings described by him/her (and whether he is engaged in the action as a character or remote from it) - the mind of the *author of a fictional work* is composed rather by the comparisons, the contrasts, the interrelations, the inter-modifications and order of presentation of every character, action and narrative emphasis in the work.

: The author's expressed mind is an organism of consistent and related ideas abstractable from his imaginative work as a complicated "philosophy" reasonably *inferable* from those interrelations, intermodifications of the items of the work. It differs from the mind of the essayist in the essay in that, in the case of the latter, the ideas of the essayist seldom need be inferred; they are simply *there*; the essayist's vocabulary is conventional and universal, not so dependent for its "dictionary", as imaginative works are, on the context in which it appears - not so dependent, therefore, on "interpretation."

: I am saying that the author's philosophy, his mind, is expressed not in the mere report of the actions and remarks of the characters, but *in the artistic proportions of the colorations of the parts of that report made by the narrator, and their arrangement in an order creating the story and developing it to its end.*

: It is time for an example: let us take the beautiful "A Day's Wait."

: (to be continued)

L. Swilley /A Day's Wait seems to be about the magnification of one day into eternity. Or looked at it another way, the compression of a life into a day. It seems to be about how time is elastic. Time is relative, as Einstein discovered. But here we have it in literature rather than science.
The story is told completely from the view point of the father. You've reviewed this story before. You talked about how the father was calloused in forgetting about his son while he was out hunting quail. Many of Hemingway's characters appear to be calloused individuals. Is this story about the Hemingway code? Are we supposed to say, "The boy held it in, his fears, that he was going to die"?
I find it difficult to believe that a child of nine who believed he was going to die would tell his father to leave if it was going to bother him. It's only natural that a child would want to cling to his father. I know children can sometimes feel extremely helpless, but it seems difficult to believe he would tell his father to leave. I could understand it if the child didn't ask for anything. I could go that far. But it stretches credulity to believe he would encourage his father to leave.
I have many other stories that I like better than this one. Now, why do you find this story so beautiful? Behnaz



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