Clearly, he's an excellent player, however, the underlying suggest is that he has rigged games. Bill comments, "But he loses ball games'" (Hemingway 48). The idea that he may not be above board evokes the comment from Nick that "There's always more to it than we know about'" (Hemingway 48). The disappointment that both feel about this player indicates a kind of disillusionment with the game. Hemingway intentionally makes this suggestion based on the famous Black Sox scandal of 1919 when the World Series was thrown (Hurley). Americans so often believed in the power of baseball as something good and virtuous. The thought that baseball could be corrupted helps convey Nick's cynicism in this story (Hurley). Nick is a young man with a future and should be optimistic, but he has been tainted by something.
Baseball serves to illustrate the relationship between the men, but so do the novels that they discuss and evaluate. The conversation about books again shows the level of friendship between the men. However, like with baseball, it is not merely that. The content of the books they like and dislike are important in illustrating what Nick is feeling and thinking. He dismisses the book called The Ordeal of Richard Feverel without having read it. The book is about guiding youths away from the temptations of the flesh (Johnston 23). Other books such as The Dark Forest and the Forest Lovers that Nick declares "swell" have a certain romantic, knight in shining armor flavor to them (Johnston 23). As much as Nick would like to see himself as a gallant hero, he is working hard to be a tough modern man as indicated by his fascination with Fortitude, a novel about a young man who has to learn to be tough and ruthless in relationships (Johnston 23). It is this character that Nick tries to, but fails to resemble.
After alcohol and conversation have loosened the tongues of both young men, they turn to the subject of Nick's failed relationship with Marjorie. Bill repeats excessively how Nick is better off without this potential marriage. "Once a man's married he's absolutely *****ed,' Bill went on. 'He hasn't got anything more. Nothing. Not a damn thing. He's done for'" (Hemingway 56). Bill continues to beat the drum about the limitations that Nick would face if he continued the relationship, but Nick's thoughts have turned in a different direction. He feels an overwhelming sense of loss. "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" (Hemingway 57)
Nick does not reveal these thoughts to his friend. One could explain this by saying that Nick has too much of Hemingway's machismo. However, it is Nick's understanding of his friend that prevents him from saying what he feels and he allows Bill to continue to bash Marjorie, her family and love. Nick knows that his friend will not understand what he felt for Marjorie and the despair that he feels now. Inadvertently, it is Bill that gives Nick one glimmer of hope by suggesting that "you might get back into it again'" (Hemingway 59). Nick is his disillusioned state had never thought of that and realizes that there is still potential for Marjorie.
Despite how Nick feels, he mentions none of this to Bill. Their relationship that can support a discussion of baseball, books and hunting has no room in it for this kind of disagreement. Nick would not wish to appear a wimp in front of his friends and so chooses to remain silent on the topic of Marjorie. As Nick said earlier in the story, "There's always more to it that we know about'" (Hemingway 48). As close as these two young men appear to be and believe themselves to be, there is always something the other does not know. For Nick, he finds that he must hide his true feelings about Marjorie to maintain his relationship with Bill.
Hemingway, Ernest. In Our Time. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1925.
Hurley, Harold C. "Baseball in Hemingway's 'The Three-Day Blow': The way it really was in the fall of 1916." Hemingway Review Fall 1996. Academic Search Premier. Ebscohost. 8 December 2006. http://search.epnet.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&an=9612173488
Johnston, Kenneth G. "The Three-Day Blow': Tragicomic Aftermath of a Summer
Romance Fall 1982. Academic Search Premier. Ebscohost. 8 December 2006. http://search.epnet.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&an=8651201