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The Complexity Of Love In Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”

726 words - 3 pages

One of the easiest things for society to get wrapped up talking about is love. And it always has been. In Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” the four characters spend an entire afternoon discussing the simple word that has countless interpretations. Carver uses this story to convey how not everyone shares the same definition of love. He uses Mel, Terri, and Nick and Laura to show just a few of the ways love can be seen, expressed, or develops through stages.
Mel McGinnis views love in a handful of different ways. His views somewhat change throughout the story. In the beginning of the short story, Nick best describes Mel’s reasoning as: “...I think what you’re saying is that love is an absolute” (Carver 387). Saying this is saying that love has a concrete meaning and also implies that it is lasting and not changing. Mel believes there is only one way to express love, and it is his way. As the story progresses, Mel says, “But sometimes I have a hard time accounting for the fact that I must have loved my first wife too. But I did, I know I did” (390). Mel is now somewhat changing his mind. He now is willing to admit love you have for some one can fade and after you can love some one new. He knows he once loved his first wife, but now his love for Terri has replaced that. Mel also has a fairytale sense of what love is. Mel declares, “If I could come back again in a different life...I’d like to come back as a knight” (392). Society often thinks of knights, like in fairytales, as being in shining armor, swooping in to save a damsel in distress, and then the two falling in love. This situation is far from what actually happens between Mel and Terri. Mel was the knight who sweeps in to save Terri from Ed.
Terri’s view of love is one of the hardest for society to understand, it is by far the least conventional. Terri sees love in an abusive way. Mel describes it as, “Terri’s of the kick-me-so-I’ll-you-love-me school”...

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