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At first we think this guy is just a really, really unsympathetic husband, but it turns out dude's got his own problems. We never really know exactly why he kills himself (his wife's screaming?), but his role in the story involves two things:
Man, he's just undermining errybody up in here. Structurally speaking, he's the foil of his wife by being male to her female, by dying as she gives birth, and by lying there silently while she screams. The ways in which he's the foil to Nick's father are a little more complicated, but basically it comes down to the fact that his suicide causes Nick's father to lose control over the things that he previously had so much control over (the success of the surgery, what his son sees, and the like). Check out our "Character Roles" section for more on both of these ideas.