The Three Day Blow

Nick Character Analysis

Nick is the story’s protagonist and Bill’s close friend. He is a young man who is visiting Bill at Bill’s father’s cottage in Michigan, around 1916, just as an early fall storm is blowing in. Like Bill, Nick is fond of literature, baseball, and fishing. As they drink whisky, Bill and Nick toast to their favorite writers and talk about the virtues of being free and independent men who are untethered by worries like marriage, saving money, and the shallow chatter of domestic life. As the young men get increasingly drunk, Nick becomes eager to show Bill that he can hold his liquor like a “real” man and tries to prove this by doing “practical” tasks like fetching logs for the fire. Although he tries to appear traditionally masculine, masking his emotions and trumpeting the value of independence, Nick’s inner monologue reveals that he is heartbroken over his breakup with a girl named Marjorie. Although Nick was the one who broke up with her—he was hesitant about committing to married life and its social demands—he feels like he made a mistake. Bill, however, is convinced that Nick dodged a bullet by avoiding a commitment to Marjorie. Nick agrees with Bill outwardly, but internally, he is distraught about losing Marjorie, comparing the brutality of his loss to the fierceness of the storm outside. He wistfully thinks of the plans they had made to travel together in Europe. As the story unfolds, Nick wrestles with his love for Marjorie and his desire to appease Bill, a conflict that is reflected in the difference between his internal monologue and his external dialogue. As Bill continues to denigrate marriage and warns Nick to not get back into a relationship with Marge, Nick is suddenly heartened, realizing that no end is final and no break is irreparable. With this realization, Nick secretly vows to go into town—presumably to visit Marjorie and make amends—the following week. He says nothing about this to Bill, perhaps not wanting to seem vulnerable and thus unmanly in front of his friend.

Nick Quotes in The Three Day Blow

The The Three Day Blow quotes below are all either spoken by Nick or refer to Nick. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Masculinity, Independence, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon and Schuster edition of The Three Day Blow published in 1987.
The Three-Day Blow Quotes

Nick stopped and picked up a Wagner apple from beside the road, shiny in the brown grass from the rain. He put the apple in the pocket of his Mackinaw coat.

Related Characters: Nick
Page Number: 85
Explanation and Analysis:
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In back was the garage, the chicken coop and the second-growth timber like a hedge against the woods behind. The big trees swayed far over in the wind is he watched. It was the first of the autumn storms.

Related Characters: Nick, Bill
Related Symbols: The Storm
Page Number: 85
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

The wind was blowing straight down the lake. They could see the surf along Ten Mile point.

“She's blowing,” Nick said.

“She'll blow like that for three days,” Bill said.

Related Characters: Nick (speaker), Bill (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Storm
Page Number: 85
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“It's got a swell, smoky taste,” Nick said, and looked at the fire through the glass.

“That's the peat,” Bill said.

“You can't get peat into liquor,” Nick said.

“That doesn't make any difference.” Bill said.

“You ever seen any peat?” Nick asked.

“No,” said Bill.

“Neither have I,” Nick said.

Related Characters: Nick (speaker), Bill (speaker)
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

Bill came down with a pair of heavy wool socks.

“It's getting too late to go around without socks,” he said.

“I hate to start them again,” Nick said. He pulled the socks on and slumped back in the chair, putting his feet up on the screen in front of the fire.

“You'll dent in the screen,” Bill said. Nick swung his feet over to the side of the fireplace.

Related Characters: Nick (speaker), Bill (speaker)
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:
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“As long as McGraw can buy every good ball player in the league there's nothing to it.”

“He can't buy them all,” Nick said.

“He buys all the ones he wants,” Bill said. “Or he makes them discontented so they have to trade them to him.”

“Like Heinie Zim,” Nick agreed.

Related Characters: Nick (speaker), Bill (speaker)
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:
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“It's good when the fall storms come, isn't it?” Nick said.

“It's swell.”

“It's the best time of year,” Nick said.

Related Characters: Nick (speaker), Bill (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Storm
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“Did you read the Forest Lovers?”

“Yup. That's the one where they go to bed every night with the naked sword between them […] What I couldn't ever understand was what good the sword would do […]”

“It's a symbol,” Bill said.

“Sure,” said Nick, “but it isn't practical.”

“Did you ever read Fortitude?”

“It's fine,” Nick said […] “Have you got any more by Walpole?”
The Dark Forest,” Bill said.

Related Characters: Nick (speaker), Bill (speaker)
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“I guess he's a better guy than Walpole.”

“Oh, he's a better guy, all right.” Bill said.

“But Walpole's a better writer.”

“I don't know,” Nick said. “Chesterton’s a classic.”

“Walpole's a classic, too,” Bill insisted.

“I wish we had them both here,” Nick said. “We'd take them both fishing to the 'Voix tomorrow.”

Related Characters: Nick (speaker), Bill (speaker)
Page Number: 88
Explanation and Analysis:
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“He claims he's never taken a drink in his life,” Nick said […].

“Well, he's a doctor. My old man's a painter. That's different.”

“He's missed a lot,” Nick said sadly.

“You can't tell,” Bill said. “Everything's got its compensations.”

“He says he's missed a lot himself,” Nick confessed.

“Well, dad’s had a tough time.” Bill said.

“It all evens up,” Nick said.

They sat looking into the fire and thinking of this profound truth.

Related Characters: Nick (speaker), Bill (speaker), Bill’s Father, Nick’s Father
Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

Nick […] wished to show he could hold his liquor and be practical. Even if his father had never touched a drop Bill was not going to get him drunk before he himself was drunk.

“Bring one of the big beech chunks,” Bill said. He was also being consciously practical.

Related Characters: Bill (speaker), Nick
Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

Nick came in with the log through the kitchen and in passing knocked a pan off the kitchen table. He laid the log down and picked up the pan. It had contained dried apricots, soaking in water. He carefully picked up all the apricots off the floor […] He felt quite proud of himself. He had been thoroughly practical.

Related Characters: Nick
Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

On his way back to the living room he passed a mirror in the dining room and looked in it. His face looked strange. He smiled at the face in the minor and it grinned back at him. He winked at it and went on. It was not his face but it didn't make any difference.

Related Characters: Nick
Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“You were very wise, Wemedge,” Bill said.

“What do you mean?” asked Nick.

“To bust off that Marge business,” Bill said.

Related Characters: Nick (speaker), Bill (speaker), Marjorie (“Marge”)
Page Number: 90
Explanation and Analysis:
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“Once a man’s married he’s absolutely bitched […] He hasn't got anything more. Nothing. Not a damn thing. He’s done for. You’ve seen the guys that get married. […] They get this sort of fat married look. They're done for.”

Related Characters: Bill (speaker), Nick, Marjorie (“Marge”)
Page Number: 90
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“If you’d have married her you would have had to marry the whole family. Remember her mother and that guy she married […] Imagine having them around the house all the time and going to Sunday dinners at their house, and having them over to dinner and her telling Marge all the time what to do and how to act.”

Related Characters: Bill (speaker), Nick, Marjorie (“Marge”)
Page Number: 90
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“You can't mix oil and water and you can't mix that sort of thing any more than if I'd marry Ida that works for Strattons. She'd probably like it, too.”

Related Characters: Bill (speaker), Nick, Marjorie (“Marge”), Ida
Page Number: 90-91
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

Nick said nothing. The liquor had all died out of him and left him alone. Bill wasn't there. He wasn't sitting in front of the fire or going fishing tomorrow with Bill and his dad or anything. He wasn't drunk. It was all gone. All he knew was that he had once had Marjorie and that he had lost her. She was gone and he had sent her away. That was all that mattered. He might never see her again. Probably he never would. It was all gone, finished.

Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“All of a sudden everything was over […] I don't know why it was. I couldn't help it. Just like when the three-day blows come now and rip all the leaves off the trees.”

Related Characters: Nick (speaker), Bill, Marjorie (“Marge”)
Related Symbols: The Storm
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“I'm sorry as hell about her but what could I do? […] You know what her mother was like!”

Related Characters: Nick (speaker), Bill, Marjorie (“Marge”)
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

Nick had not thought about that. It had seemed so absolute. That was a thought. That made him feel better […] He felt happy now. There was not anything that was irrevocable.

Related Characters: Nick, Bill, Marjorie (“Marge”)
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“There's always a chance.”

Related Characters: Nick (speaker), Bill, Marjorie (“Marge”)
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

Outside now the Marge business was no longer so tragic. It was not even very important. The wind blew everything like that away. […] None of it was important now. The wind blew it out of his head.

Related Characters: Nick, Bill, Marjorie (“Marge”)
Related Symbols: The Storm
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Nick Character Timeline in The Three Day Blow

The timeline below shows where the character Nick appears in The Three Day Blow. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Three-Day Blow
The Lost Generation Theme Icon
The rain ceases as Nick makes his way up a road that cuts through an orchard, which is barren now... (full context)
Loss and Hope Theme Icon
Outside the cottage, Nick can see the “second-growth timber” piled up against the trees that are swaying in the... (full context)
Masculinity, Independence, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
...sit down by the fire, drinking and discussing the smoky taste of the whisky, which Nick describes as “swell.” Bill knowingly attributes the smoky taste to peat in the whisky, which... (full context)
Masculinity, Independence, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
The Lost Generation Theme Icon
Bill notices that Nick’s feet are wet when Nick’s shoes start steaming in front of the fire. Bill fetches... (full context)
Masculinity, Independence, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Loss and Hope Theme Icon
The Lost Generation Theme Icon
...wants. They wonder if McGraw made the right call to buy Zim for the Giants. Nick thinks it was a good idea, saying that Zim can hit and field well, but... (full context)
Masculinity, Independence, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Loss and Hope Theme Icon
Bill reaches his hand around the whisky bottle and refills Nick’s glass. Nick muses that it’s a good time when the fall storms come around, and... (full context)
Masculinity, Independence, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
The Lost Generation Theme Icon
...for a book and leans back, book in one hand, whisky glass in the other. Nick asks Bill what he’s reading, and Bill says Richard Feverel. Nick says he “couldn’t get... (full context)
Masculinity, Independence, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
The Lost Generation Theme Icon
Nick says he’d like to meet Walpole, and Bill counters that he’d like to meet Chesterton.... (full context)
Masculinity, Independence, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Bill abruptly says, “let’s get drunk,” and Nick cautiously agrees, wondering if Bill’s father will mind. Bill reassures him that “my old man... (full context)
Masculinity, Independence, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
The Lost Generation Theme Icon
Bill mentions that his father “gets a little wild sometimes,” and Nick remarks that Bill’s father is a “swell guy.” As Nick pours some water into his... (full context)
Masculinity, Independence, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Nick gets up to fetch a log for the fire, eager to prove that he can... (full context)
Masculinity, Independence, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Nick suggests drinking more, and Bill fishes out another open bottle. This time it’s Scotch. Nick... (full context)
Masculinity, Independence, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
The Lost Generation Theme Icon
...empty and decide to now drink to Chesterton and Walpole. As they refill their glasses, Nick and Bill “[feel] very fine.” (full context)
Masculinity, Independence, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
The Lost Generation Theme Icon
Bill switches topics abruptly, saying that Nick was “wise” to break off his relationship, dismissively calling it “that Marge business.” Nick tepidly... (full context)
Masculinity, Independence, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Bill sympathizes that it must have been tough to break off the relationship, but reminds Nick that he’ll probably fall for someone else soon enough, though he warns Nick not to... (full context)
Masculinity, Independence, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Loss and Hope Theme Icon
Nick is still quiet. He suddenly feels distanced from the environment he’s in. He no longer... (full context)
Masculinity, Independence, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Loss and Hope Theme Icon
The Lost Generation Theme Icon
Bill remarks that if Nick had stayed with Marjorie, they wouldn’t be hanging out right now. Nick agrees, thinking to... (full context)
Masculinity, Independence, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Nick’s thoughts despondently dwell on all the things he had planned to do with Marjorie, like... (full context)
Masculinity, Independence, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
The Lost Generation Theme Icon
Nick bursts out that he’s “sorry as hell about [Marjorie]” but that he had no choice,... (full context)
Loss and Hope Theme Icon
Nick is taken by surprise: the thought had never occurred to him before, because the breakup... (full context)
Masculinity, Independence, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Loss and Hope Theme Icon
Nick starts thinking about when he might go into town in the next few days, but... (full context)
Masculinity, Independence, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Loss and Hope Theme Icon
The Lost Generation Theme Icon
Nick suggests they take the guns outside for some shooting and to find Bill’s father. As... (full context)
Masculinity, Independence, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Loss and Hope Theme Icon
...which is blowing too strongly for them to shoot. The wind and fresh air help Nick clear his head. Now that he is outside, the “Marge business” feels a lot less... (full context)
Masculinity, Independence, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Loss and Hope Theme Icon
The Lost Generation Theme Icon
...if they can shoot anything on the way. As they head off into the storm, Nick is relieved that he has stopped dwelling on his feelings about Marge, thinking, “None of... (full context)