One of the best books written by Raymond
One of the best books written by Raymond
Carver's is what is known as ‘What We Talk about When We Talk about Love.' It was written in 1981 and is made up various
short stories from different authors. One of the short stories has the same
title, as the book's major title. Carver's is said to be one of the best and
influential American writers in the 21st century. This paper will
analyze the story of ‘What We Talk about When We Talk about Love' in an
in-depth way, by looking at the plot and various characters. The main objective
of the analysis is to bring out the love theme as evident in this story. A
critical analysis of the characters and plot in Carver's story will help to
understand the way the love theme is developed.
The short story ‘What We Talk about
When We Talk about Love' focuses on the life of four friends, Mel, Teresa,
Laura, and Nick. The setting of the story is in Mel's house, where there is a
table which has an ice bucket at the center. In the bucket, there is a gin
bottle placed in it. When seated around the table, these four friends start a
conversation about love. Terri one of the friends has been living in the
relationship that is unhealthy, despite claiming it was based on love. She
believes that in spite of receiving beatings and humiliations from her
ex-boyfriend Ed that there was love between them. Nonetheless, Mel is opposed
to the idea of love existing in Terri's relationship as he believed that it was
impossible for someone to love you and at the same time abuse you in an
inhumane way. After realizing that Terri and Mel were dating, Ed started
stalking them and sending threatening messages. Due to fear of the threats
received, Mel becomes very scared to the extent of purchasing a gun, for
purposes of using it for self-defense. Mel went ahead of writing a letter to
his broth living in California informing him of the threat and the person who
would be held responsible in case of any harm happening to him. After making
two attempts of getting back together with Terri, Ed commits suicide, and Terri
is convinced that he acted that way due to love. Terri due to her believe to be
with Ed in the hospital bed, but Mel was strongly opposed to the idée. However,
he agreed, and Terri was in Ed's hospital bed when he died. Ed's death was
caused by a gunshot in the mouth, after surviving an early suicide attempt
using rat poison.
In the process of Ed's discussion,
Mel gives a story of a couple who were seriously injured in the accident. He
attended to them, and they had "multiple fractures, internal injuries,
hemorrhaging, contusions and lacerations" (Carver, 1994). When they were moved to the ICU, the husband
would insist that he was not comfortable as he would not see her wife. In
telling this story, Mel tried to bring the point that love did not exist as
Terri was trying to say in the case of Ed. He pointed out that after the death
of someone, a person who was once in love after the grieving period is over, he
or she will move on to love another person.
The story has four major
characters. Mel McGinnis is one of the
characters and is 45 year. He is a cardiologist and seems to know about love.
He has two children from the previous marriage with Marjorie, who he seems to
hate with a passion. He is opposed to the idea of the existence of love but
confesses about the way people are devoted to love in life. He is a rangy and
tall man, whose hair is soft.
Terri- She is the second wife of
Mel. In the past was living with Ed and they ended up breaking up doing to the
abusive nature of him. In spite of the abuses from Ed, Terri was of the strong
opinion that Ed was truly in love with her. Nonetheless, all the other
characters disagree with her notion about love.
Laura- She is wife to Nick and is
aged 35 years. She works as a legal secretary. Laura rarely speaks throughout
the story. However, her action of behaving in a romantic way towards Nick, such
as holding his hands indicate she is a character who understand many things
Nick- Nick is the narrator of the story.
Nick is aged 38 years and married to Laura for 18 months. His contributions are
minimal in the story, but his actions concerning relationship with Laura,
clearly reveals the aspects of love in life.
Theme Analysis –Love
The primary theme of this story is that of
love as revealed by the behaviors of the various characters in this story. Ed
is one of the character's who helps in understanding what love entails in life.
Despite being abusive naturally, he ends up taking his love after being
rejected by Terri, her ex-girlfriend, whom they separated due to his
abusiveness. One the other hand, Terri believes that Ed was in love with her
and is saddened by the action he took, of shooting himself and wants to be with
him in the hospital bed. The action of Terri truly shows what true love is all
about. The love should be that of caring for one another during the good and
bad time. Terri shows dedication to the love she once shared with Ed by with
him in the hospital bed, until his demise. Also, the act of Ed to threaten Mel
because of taking his girlfriend and two attempts of committing suicide is a
sign of love.
However, the various characters in
the story, Mel, Nick and Laura disagree with the perspective that Terri and Ed
have toward love (Carver, 1994). They believe, especially Mel that love is all
about caring for one another and one should be ready to walk away when a
partner becomes abusive. Mel brings out the concept of love as something that
does not exist, as one easily moves on to love another person after grieving
the demise of a previous lover.
Carver's story ‘What We Talk about When We
Talk about Love' is one of the best regarding bringing out the meaning of love.
After reading it, one gains a deeper understanding of the concept of love. The
plot from the start to the end talks about love. On the other hand, the actions
and behaviors of the characters, such as Ed, Mel, and Terri, play a critical
role in depicting what roles means. In conclusion, critical analysis of the
characters and plot in Carver's story helps to understand the way the love
theme is developed throughout the story.