I want to have a summary of "The Three Day Below" by Hemingway

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hemingway's "Three Day Blow" is one of his stories that exhibits the "iceberg effect":  there is much more beneath the surface than what is in the narrative.  Nick Adams and his friend Bill are in the hunting cabin of Bill's father as they wait out an autumn storm known as the "three-day blow."  As they drink whisky from Bill's father's cabinet, the boys first discuss baseball, but their discussion moves to fishing, a more authentic activity that a man can do alone.  On their second drink of whisky, the boys discuss writers; Bill feels that Horace Walpole is a better writer than G.K.Chesterton, whom Nick says is a classic.

As the evening progresses, the boys decide to get drunk.  Nick decides to prove that he can control himself even if he is drunk because it bothers him that his physician is a tee-totaler.  Nick says, "It all evens up," and they sit looking into the fire "and thinking of this profound truth."  Bill tells Nick he will get another bottle while Nick offers to procure more water.  On his way back to the living room, Nick sees his reflection in a mirror and "it grinned back at him."  Somehow the face looks different.

The boys' discussion moves to Nick's having broken up with Marge, his girlfriend.  Bill tells him he is lucky because once a man's married, he loses his independence:  "He's done for."  He tells Nick that he is better off for not having married her.  As the liquor dies out of him, Nick feels that

It was all gone....Just like the three-day blows come now and rip all the leaves off the trees. 

The boys go outside where the "Marge business ws no longer so tragic...

The wind blew everything like that away....The wind blew it out of his head.  Still he could always go into town Saturday night.  It was a good thing to have in reserve.

In his youthfulness, Nick does not feel is anything irrevocable.  But for Bill the solitary life is one in which a man can guard against himself and not lose control over his destiny.