The theme of love is probably one of the most indefinable and elusive topics around the whole world. People are free to have their own understanding of love, consider their own experiences to give a kind of explanation of love, and use their own ideas to share their expectations from love. In 1981, Raymond Carver, a well known American short story writer, shared his own vision of love and introduced it in his work with rather a clear and unostentatious title What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.
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His story is a conversation between the two couples with different types of relations and experience that aims at the understanding of the idea of love and demonstrating a burning desire to clear up what love actually is. Carver’s story is a good chance to comprehend what people can talk about discussing the concept of love, realize what love can mean at different stages of life, and clear up how love may influence the whole vision of life with its challenges, splashes, and sweets.
To give a clear explanation of the concept of love is probably one of the hardest tasks in the world, and the characters of Carver’s story make numerous attempts to comprehend what is more appropriate while talking about love. Carver’s choice to provide a cardiologist, Mel McGinnis, with a right to start talking about love is provocative and interesting indeed as his job has a direct relation to a human heart that is regarded as an organ symbolizing an idea and even form of love.
Who can know more about love than a cardiologist? The answer is probably anyone; still, it is interesting to learn what a pragmatic by its nature doctor may think about it. In the story, Mel’s idea turns out to be one of the most predictable and easier to comprehend. He defines love as “nothing less than spiritual love” (Carver 114).
However, spiritual love may have a lot of faces. In fact, it can be pure and unpretentious as loving affairs of Nick and Laura at their early stage. It can be harsh and difficult to understand like the relations between Terri and his ex-husband Ed. And it can also be unpredictable and emotional like the McGinnis’ family.
Talking about love, it is so easy to choose the most interesting topic and discuss the types of relations that may exist between people as the main characters of the story decide to do. The story shows that love conversations may touch upon a variety of serious themes like how it is possible to live a life.
For example, it does not cost anything to add a piece of romantic to life and enjoy its every moment like a relatively young couple, Nick and Laura, does when he “took Laura’s hand and raised it to… lips… [and] make a big production out of kissing” (Carver, 119). When people are not young and have rich life experience, their understanding of life and love differs considerably from younger people’s ideas.
The example of a car accident introduces how people may put their priorities differently. “The husband was very depressed for the longest while. Not about the accident… but it was because he couldn’t see her [his wife] through his eye-holes… that was what was making him feel so bad” (Carver 126). It proves that time helps to realize that some people may be irreplaceable, and their absence can change the essence of the whole life.
A person cannot understand the role of love until he/she faces it and defines its impact on everything around. It is hard to imagine everyday life without love. It may gain a number of forms and have various directions. It may be love for parents, friends, things, events, or even some moments that cannot be forgotten. This is why, when people talk about love, they talk about life with all its sweets, falls and rises, memories, challenges, etc. It is hard to comprehend what love cannot touch upon.
The story proves that even violence is about love. Terri shares a story about her ex-husband, Ed, when he “went on dragging me around the living room by my ankles. My head kept knocking on things” (Carver 114). Though his current husband, Mel, does not want to agree that such relations have something in common with love, he contradicts himself. Before, he mentions that he believes in spiritual love only. Still, the manifestation of violence may be a kind of subtype of spiritual love that is familiar to many people around the globe.
In general, Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love becomes a powerful stimulus to think about the role of feelings in human life. Life seems to be empty and meaningless in case love or some other type of emotion is absent. People may deny the existence of love, have specific understanding of this concept, and believe that it does or does not influence the way of life.
Still, it is impossible to ignore or impose it. The story under consideration is a good chance to see how one ordinary day with the talks about love may interpret the lives of four different people and provide the reader with an opportunity to improve own life.
Carver, Raymond. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. New York, NY: Vintage Classics, 2009. Print.