Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formattingExcerpt from Term Paper:
Raymond Carver's short story "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" (Carver, 1981) were to be encapsulated in a single statement: What we talk about when we talk about love is really a mirror to our personalities and our characters. This is more than evident in Carver's description of two couples' conversation during an afternoon spent drinking gin prior to going out to dinner. In fact, considering that love involves more than one person, the conversations in the short story may have nothing to do with love at all. It meanders (while retaining dramatic heights and depths) and then peters out to nothing because none of us (at least none of the characters) really know what love is.
The conversation involves two couples. The protagonist is Nick who is happily married to Laura; they are at the home of a cardiologist, Mel Guinness, and his wife Terri (Teresa). Mel and Terri have been married for four years; Nick and Laura, for a little more than a year. So let's visit some of the definitions of love: According to Mel, "real love [is] nothing less than spiritual love." (Carver, p. 137) This was from his days as a seminarian before going to medical school.
Mel also relates another story of an old couple, who barely alive after a car-wreck, fought for their lives and became better. The old man, however, was depressed. Swathed in bandages, all he wanted to do was to be able to look at his wife. Mel relates this story with a hint of regret. The old couple, from years of companionship, had somehow attained spiritual oneness. Mel's character is cerebral. He strives to attain an idealized level of love, but has always been unsuccessful. His life has been spent seeking that elusive love. In most cases, it has remained, for Mel, unrequited.
He asks a very pertinent question to his friends: Each of them had been previously married (at least once) or has had lovers. While they professed to love their current spouses, was that love genuine or merely ephemeral -- window-dressing for the moment. His illustrates his point from his own life. He hates his ex-wife Marjorie, whom at one point he "loved more than life itself." (Carver, p. 145)
While Mel and Terri seem to have a happy marriage, their union is superficial. Here the differences between Mel and Terri's take on love are evident. While Mel is cerebral, Terri is ruled by her heart. She is more nurturing and perhaps, forgiving. Mel cannot understand how Terri could have anything nice to say about her ex-husband Ed who expressed his love by physically abusing her: "He beat me up one night. He dragged me around the living room by my ankles. He kept saying, 'I love you, I love you, you *****'." (Carver, p. 138) When Terri leaves Ed for Mel, Ed threatens them both. Unsuccessful in getting Terri back, he attempts suicide -- unsuccessfully the first time -- by drinking rat poison. In the second suicide attempt, Ed shoots himself. This time he is successful. On both occasions Terri is at his bedside. "That's not love, and you know it," Mel says, "I don't know what you'd call it, but I sure know you wouldn't call it love." She reconciles her relationship with Ed: "Say what you want to. I know it was (love). (Carver, p. 138)
Terri has led a much less sheltered life. She is also much less self-righteous than Mel. She understands that though Ed could be dangerous and temperamental, he was very emotional. It was this emotion that was appealing to Terri who probably operated on the same level though her emotions did not manifest in violence. Karen Bernardo, in an Internet commentary, avers that "Ed, in fact, functions as a pivotal character in the story even though he is dead by the time the action occurs. He stands out in stark contrast to the little group drinking around the table, for, crazy as he was, he had life in him." (Bernardo, 2002)
While Terri's life with Mel is not threatening to her life, she certainly is not very happy in her marriage. Certain staleness has crept into the marriage. Terri comments on the small instances of physical intimacy that exist between Laura and Nick: the extravagant gesture of kissing her hand, letting his hand linger on her thigh, and holding her well-manicured wrist between his fingers. Laura and Nick also possess that "in love," newly-wed glow about them. Terri tells them that they're "still on a honeymoon" and must "wait awhile" to see what married life is really like. (Carver, p. 143) Though Terri seems to be jesting, one would presume that her marriage is not as intimate. There are a couple of moments between Mel and Terri, where their fingers meet or when they reach out to each other and kiss. But these are merely moments of reconciliations that creep into the conversation when they have minor disagreements and arguments.
Adam Meyer, in analyzing Raymond Carver's work, describes the period of the short story (Meyer, 1995). Carver had been drinking heavily. And Mel's search for love may be quasi-autobiographical. (Meyer, p. 86) This was also a period when Carver pared down his stories to bare essentials. This probably gave the stories a unique twist (Park, 2002). The reader is gripped into following the narrative in the hope of finding an answer, which may or may not come.
As the story unfolds and the drunkenness of the conversation increases, Mel, in a constant search for divine love tries to turn to a love that is pure: a love that transcends the ordinary and carnal. He wants to talk with his kids from his previous marriage. "I think I want to call my kids," Mel says. One can tell that Mel hates his previous wife. He is therefore afraid for his current marriage -- that it soon will devolve into mutual hatred. Obviously, Marjorie has gotten the better deal in the divorce settlement. She has most of his assets and also the children. He wishes that she dies.
Drunkenness always loosens tongues. Mel talks about coming back as a knight (if he could). Knights were famous for their acts of chivalry in protecting "damsels in distress." Mel, however, really wants only the armor for his protection. Does he want to be protected from love? Or, does he want to be protected from the consequences of love? Mel obviously hurts from having given more of himself than his character would allow in searching for that higher, spiritual love. Even his discussion on knights ends in them lying helplessly on the ground, tired, and weighed down by armor. The knights may die from being trampled by horses, or "Some vassal would come along and spear the bastard in the name of love." (Carver, p. 149)
The couples realize that as the afternoon wears on, they are plunged into a morass of questions that none of them can extricate him or herself from. The more they try to answer the questions of love, the more ignorant they find themselves. They also find out the hidden, ugly truths lurking underneath: They might not really love one another. The story provides a lot of information about Mel and Terri. Laura and Nick are however, relegated to a few tender moments and unremarkable interjections. We know that they love, and are comfortable with, each other, "In addition to being in love, we like each other and enjoy each other's company. She's easy to be with." (Carver, p. 141)
Through out the story, as the tension between Mel and Terri increases, due to an argument, a difference of opinion, or partially-finished anecdotes, Carver, through Nick, seeks to release some of it. Out of…[continue]
"Raymond Carver's Short Story What We Talk" (2002, December 03) Retrieved October 25, 2016, from http://www.paperdue.com/essay/raymond-carver-hort-tory-what-we-talk-140723
"Raymond Carver's Short Story What We Talk" 03 December 2002. Web.25 October. 2016. <http://www.paperdue.com/essay/raymond-carver-hort-tory-what-we-talk-140723>
"Raymond Carver's Short Story What We Talk", 03 December 2002, Accessed.25 October. 2016, http://www.paperdue.com/essay/raymond-carver-hort-tory-what-we-talk-140723
When Terri asks Mel is he is drunk, he becomes defensive because he realizes that something about his personality must be changing. In other words, he is getting drunk and behaving drunk but does not want to admit it and continues to drink to cover his emotions. Perhaps the most compelling aspect of the story in relation to drinking is the fact that the characters are drinking as if it
Raymond Carver and Themes of Love In the short story "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" Raymond Carver deals with the theme of love. Through the characters and their interactions, Carver shows the emptiness of love and suggests that real love cannot be found. Carver also uses the setting to turn this story of two couples into a story making universal statements about the nature of love. Terry's characters
Raymond Carver When one is seeking a bright, cheerily optimistic view of the world one does not automatically turn to the works of Raymond Carver. The short story writer - whom many critics cite as being the greatest master of that form since Ernest Hemingway - filled his pages with anger and discontent, despair and loss, desperation and the demons of addiction. The overall tone of his work is certainly dark.
Raymond Carver, "Cathedral" Raymond Carver's short story "Cathedral" is narrated in the first person by the unnamed protagonist, and tells a deceptively simple story: the narrator's wife (also unnamed) has invited her former employer Robert, an older blind man recently widowed, to come for dinner and stay the night. The husband is resistant to the social occasion, but goes through with it -- although his narration makes us privy to his
Love is a word that is often overused and sometimes underappreciated. And despite the confusion some people have in separating romantic love from sensual pleasure, or real love from friendship -- love is among the most powerful ideas in the world. Given all the tension and hatefulness in the world, it is the opinion of this paper that any love is good love, no matter how bizarre or byzantine it
Raymond Carver is a writer who is known for a distinct style and also for distinct themes. The style is what is usually refers to as 'minimalist.' The themes common to his stories include the basics of life and people's struggles. What is most significant about his subjects is that they are not significant. Rather than focus on anything obviously meaningful, Carver focuses on the realities of the average life,
Raymond Carver was born in Clatskanie, Oregon, in 1938. Carver began his career as a writer as a poet but is more well-known for his prowess in the art of short stories, for which he is widely regarded as the preeminent storyteller of his time. Carver himself is often quoted as saying: "I began as a poet, my first publication was a poem. So I suppose on my tombstone I'd