What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
In his story, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, Raymond Carver explores the topic of love between three couples who are at different stages of their love. Two couples are having a chat about love while drinking gin inside the kitchen. The two couples are Nick and Laura, who are newlyweds and Mel and Terri who have been married for four years. The story is told with one of the characters, Nick, using the first person. However, Nick doesn’t talk much with Mel, and Terri being the more talkative ones. The story centers around the theme of love and that no matter what, in every relationship, love exists. An analysis of the relationships in Carver’s story will show if indeed it is true there is love in every relationship.
Terri, Mel’s spouse, tells the story about her ex-husband Ed and how their relationship was. Ed used to abuse Terri physically but at the same time profess his love for her. “It was love. Sure, it’s abnormal in most people’s eyes. But, he was willing to die for it. He did die for it. (Carver, 1994)” Terri believes that even though their relationship with Ed was obsessive and violent, she was sure that Ed did love her. Carver shows that even when a relationship doesn’t seem perfect, love still exists. A Russian proverb claims that if he beats you, that means he loves you (“If He Beats You, It Means He Loves You,” 2016). This is in support of what Carver is putting across that even in a violent relationship, there is still love.
Mel also tells the story about his ex-wife and how he loved her. Though he currently hates her and even fantasizes to kill her, he admits that he loved her when they were together. “There was a time I thought I loved my first wife more than life itself. But now I hate her guts. I do.” Carver demonstrates that initially there was love which has now turned into hate. Psychologists believe that love is a ground for the development of hatred when the intimacy and intensity of love become sour (Ben-Zeev, 2017).
The elderly couple that Mel talks about also portrays that there is love even at relationship many years old. “I’m telling you, the man’s heart was breaking because he couldn’t turn his goddamn head and see his goddamn wife,” Mel explains an elderly couple which was involved in a near-fatal crash and the man was getting depressed as he was unable to see his wife. That love the man has for his wife shows that even at an advanced age, a couple can still love one another. Carver uses this story to tell that love can bear the test of time and still prevail.
It is evident that love is existent in the relationships covered in this Carver’s story. Though the love in every relationship may not be the same, it is still love in its way. Nick and Laura who are newlyweds feel that they love each other which can be seen with how they are acting at the beginning of the story. Mel and Terri feel that the passion in their marriage has dried up and one is left wondering if they love each other. Terri asserts that though her former husband was abusive, he loved her, though Mel disputes that. Mel, on the other hand, loathes her ex-wife but admits he once loved her very much. The elderly couple does love one another with the man even becoming depressed as he can’t see his wife. All these prove the thesis statement that love exists in every relationship, no matter how it is defined.
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