(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“The Three-Day Blow” has little external action. The story focuses on the conversation of Nick and his friend Bill as they take refuge from an autumn storm in the cottage of Bill’s father. The two close friends get drunk on whiskey belonging to Bill’s father and speak of common interests: baseball, fishing, favorite books and writers, their fathers, and, as the whiskey takes effect, the recent breakup of Nick’s relationship with a girl named Marge. The most important action, however, occurs inside the mind of Nick Adams.

The story begins as Nick walks through an orchard to join Bill at Bill’s cottage while taking note of the way the field and woods are windblown by the autumn storm. Inside the cottage, the boys warm themselves by a roaring fire and reveal that they are eager sportsmen and avid readers. They refer to the talents and limitations of particular ballplayers and speak of unscrupulous trades, corrupt managerial strategies, and baseball monopolies that have ruined many good athletes and kept certain teams on top and others at the bottom of the baseball ladder. Suggesting a conspiracy among owners, Nick says, “There’s always more to it than we know about.” They agree that the “Cards” will never win a pennant—that even when the Cardinals did get going once, a train wreck ruined a promising season.

On their second glass of whiskey, the boys convey their admiration for certain writers over others—favoring writers they perceive as personally honest and whose works issue from firsthand knowledge. Books are as real to the boys as is fishing or whiskey, and they wish that they could share their personal passions with writers to whom they feel close. Gilbert Keith Chesterton is a “better guy” than Horace Walpole, but Walpole is “a better writer.” They would like to take both of them fishing.

With the pouring of a third glass of whiskey, the boys propose to get really drunk and question whether they are not drunk already. Warmed by the whiskey, the fire, and their camaraderie, each praises the other’s father, but it is clear that Nick is bothered by the fact that in...

(The entire section is 873 words.)