Raymond Carver: The Main Character Essay

1096 words - 5 pages

Raymond Carver is considered to be one of the most important American short story writers of all time. He utilized his work to reflect two distinct periods in his life. This first stage of his life depicts people in desperate situations, similar to his own experiences with poverty, alcoholism and divorce. Later in his work, during a time when he was given a second chance at love, it seems as though he is “reborn.” Carver is an author who experienced real hardships throughout his lifetime and used his literary work to depict his uncertain feelings about love. Raymond Carver uses the theme of love in “Gazebo”, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” and “Where I’m Calling From” to parallel the loss that he experienced, in his own marriage and career, due to alcoholism.
After having held numerous jobs while trying to balance the loss of his father, raising children since the age of 18, and his passion to write, Carver began drinking. He wrote Gazebo, a story in his collection “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” in 1981, before his divorce. The story depicts Holly and Duane, a married couple managing a motel. Once college sweethearts, they’re love begins to fade as Duane has an affair with Juanita, a maid at the motel. Duane was set on managing the motel, forcing Holly to give up her future. They rely on following each other to get through life; therefore, despite Holly’s doubtfulness in the rekindling of their love, Duane wants to continue an aimless life together despite his unfaithfulness. Holly makes efforts to rekindle their love by pouring whiskey on Duane’s stomach and licking it off but ultimately admits to herself that Duane is thinking about Juanita whenever they have sex. He begs for her forgiveness, but after her realization she felt as though “something [had] died in [her]…It took a long time for it to do it, but it's dead. [He’d] killed something, just like [he’d taken] an axe to it. Everything is dirt now.” Not only had she been cheated on in her marriage, she had been cheated on by life. She had wasted her life aimlessly following a disloyal man with whom alcohol had torn from her. Holly is symbolic of Carver’s first wife, Maryann Burk, and Duane is the portrayal of Carver. Similar to Holly and Duane, Maryann and Carver were high school sweethearts, Maryann gave up her future for the success of Carver’s and their marriage ended in a separation due to alcoholism and the loss of passion. Holly and Duane are only capable of talking about love when intoxicated; this is a common theme in Carver’s writing, which is also utilized in the story “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.”
The prominence of alcohol in Carver’s marriage and life led to its significance in his writing. The use of alcohol in “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” is symbolic of how love can be alienating. The story is set in Scene, where Mel, Nick, Laura and Terri discuss what they believe love really is, openly...

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