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Complications Of Alcohol Abuse And Love

1187 words - 5 pages

The characters in Raymond Carver’s stories see love in different ways. Carver wrote many short stories including “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” and “Where I’m Calling From” in which the characters discuss what love means to them and how their relationships have failed or succeeded. Due to his own life experiences, Raymond Carver wrote about the complications caused by love and alcohol abuse.
The second collection of short stories by Raymond Carver was titled after one of the stories, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”. Critic Laurie Champion states, “The story involves discussions between two couples about the essence of romantic love” (Champion 2). “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” is a story about two couples at different stages in their relationships. Mel and Terri have been married for five years, while Nick Laura only for eighteen months. Nick and Laura “…are still in the glow of early love, and their behavior toward one another is affectionate and respectful. Mel and Terri, on the other hand, have been together five years, and their surface-level civility to one another barely masks a deep-seeded anger and resentment” (Smith 297). While Nick and Laura visit at Mel and Terri’s house before going out to dinner the couples’ discussion turns to love. As the night went on, “The gin and tonic kept going around and somehow we ended up on the topic of love” (Carver 170). One of the sub-plots that becomes evident is an abusive relationship between Terri and her previous boyfriend Ed. Terri argues that Ed’s abuse towards her was how he expressed his love. Terri defends Ed by saying “Sure, it’s abnormal in most people’s eyes. But he was willing to die for it. He did…” (Carver 174). Mel argues, “If you call that love, you can have it” and “I sure wouldn’t call it love” (Carver 174). Mel goes on to tell a story of an elderly couple who was in a car accident. The elderly couple, who were married for many years, end up in critical condition and the husband is devastated because he could not simply turn his head and look at his wife due to his full body cast. Mel asserts that the story “ought to make us feel ashamed when we talk like we know what we’re talking about when we talk about love” (Carver 178). Mel uses this story to emphasize his point that even though he and Terri have been married five years, they do not realize what real love is. Critic Laurie Champion states “Mel explains that the old man became depressed not because he was injured, but because he could not see his wife through the holes in his cast” (Champion 2). Champion is commenting on Mel’s point that his and Terri’s love at this stage in their relationship is no comparison for the love that grows stronger and deeper with time. Carver leaves a lasting question with the reader… Do we really know what love is, even when we think we are certain?
In the same way that love occupies the thoughts of the characters in “What We Talk About When We...

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