The storm, which the characters refer to as the “three-day blow,” represents the feelings that the protagonist, Nick, goes through as he grapples with his recent breakup with a girl named Marjorie: namely, shock, despair, and powerlessness. Bill and Nick first refer to the storm at the start of the story, noting that it marks the change in the seasons from summer to fall. When Nick discusses his breakup, he compares the brutal suddenness of the relationship ending—signaling a new “season” of life for him—to the sudden onset of an early autumn storm. Nick says, “All of a sudden everything was over,” before continuing, “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.” Here, the storm represents Nick’s feelings of powerlessness, bewilderment, and shock at this sudden loss in his life. Despite having initiated the breakup, he feels as if his feelings took on a force of their own.
However, near the end of the story, the storm represents Nick’s newfound sense of hope and clarity. When Nick realizes he might be able to get Marjorie back, he suddenly feels a palpable sense of relief. Hemingway captures the shift in Nick’s mood from despair to relief with a new metaphor using the storm. He reflects, “Outside now the Marge business was no longer so tragic. It was not even very important. The wind blew everything like that away.” Here, the storm stands for Nick’s ability to clear his head and gain a little perspective.
The Storm Quotes in The Three Day Blow
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.
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.
“It's good when the fall storms come, isn't it?” Nick said.
“It's the best time of year,” Nick said.
“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.”
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.