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In Our Time

Ernest Hemingway

The Three-Day Blow

Chapter IV

Cross-Country Snow

Summary

Nick Adams walks through an orchard on his way to Bill's house, picking up a fallen apple. When Nick arrives, the two boys stand together on the porch, discussing the weather. They predict that the wind will blow hard for three days. Bill says that his father is out with the gun. The two go inside. They decide to drink whiskey and water. Nick takes off his boots to dry them by the fire. He puts on a pair of Bill's socks. The two talk about baseball and their team, the Cardinals. Then, they talk about books. Nick does not like books whose symbols are impractical. The two agree that they love Chesterton and Walpole but cannot decide which of the two is a better person. They talk about their fathers' drinking habits--Bill's drinks regularly, Nick's never. The two are getting fairly drunk but do not want to admit it. Nick goes outside to get another log for the fire. The boys start drinking Scotch because they do not want to open another bottle of whiskey.

They drink to fishing and decide it is better than baseball. Bill tells Nick that he is glad that Marjorie is gone. He did not want to see Nick married. Yet, this conversation makes Nick sad. But, as Nick says, it was suddenly over, like the three-day blow taking the leaves off the trees. Still, they had planned to do many things together, like travel. Marjorie's mother had even told people they were engaged. Bill says that Nick might always get back into the relationship. This idea comforts Nick somewhat, because he had not realized that nothing is irreversible. Cheered somewhat, the boys decide to go outside and find Bill's father. Nick reminds himself that he can always go into town on Saturday night and find Marjorie again.

Commentary

Despite all the male bonding in this story, it reveals that Nick does have a soft spot for the feminine. Bill does not want to see Nick married, but Nick is unsure that he has made the right decision regarding Marjorie. Perhaps he does want marriage, love, and domesticity. Nick is not entirely masculine, therefore. He is constantly deciding whether to be a man's man or a family man.

The three-day blow is also symbolic of this stage in Nick's life. As a young man, he is in a flurry trying to decide what kind of person to become. Further, the early twentieth century is a moment of massive change from rusticity to modernity. The three-day blow, then, represents this time of change and chaos in the world as well as in the life of a young man. This term, three-day blow, is also infused with a biblical connotation, summoning the idea of the forty-day flood, for example. Such a radical weather phenomenon seems invoked, then, not only by life and societal changes but by spiritual decree as well.

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On the Quai at Smyrna

by bhnnad, December 04, 2012

Sparknotes' commentary for On the Quai at Smyrna seems to have quite a few historical errors. The commentary states that the narrator is likely talking about the Greek evacuation of Thrace, but the title is On the Quai at Smyrna. Smyrna is a city in modern-day Turkey (now called Izmir). The Christian (mainly Greek and Armenian) part of Smyrna was burned in 1922 after the Turks recaptured the city from the Greeks. Hemingway was actually in Turkey just after the Great Fire to cover the Greco-Turkish War as a correspondent for the Toronto Star.... Read more

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