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| We Talk about Love Essay

The definitions that have put forth regarding love are many and varied. For some people loves is an emotion that is permanent in that love is an emotion which never dies; people in love, love for the rest of their lives. For others love is an emotion which can be disposed and they equate it with other emotions such as joy fear and surprise which are discarded and lost with regularity. Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” presents different perspectives on love and how a comprehension of these perspectives is important in the definition of true love. The story is based on the conversation of two couples who are drinking, who then stumble into a discussion on love. Mel and Terri have been a couple for five years and have a history of failed relationships with other people. Laura and Nick on the other hand have been recently married. Through the conversation between the two couples we get insights from their perspectives regarding love, which leads to the conclusion that love is a permanent emotion._x000D_
The topic of love is brought up in the very first pages of the story as Terri’s previous relationship with a man claimed to love her to the extent of making an attempt on her life is discussed (290). For Terri the man had true love for her even if he was violent with her. However, she asserts that the man loved her in a different way from the way in which Mel loves her. It is easy to make the conclusion that Terri still has an attachment or some leftover love for the man who has been the cause of pain and agony. However, this is not an uncommon occurrence since it is the story of many people who have come out of such relationships. The question here is; did these men really love the people they treat so badly? And also how do these women find it possible to love husbands who have treated them in such a despicable manner? The answers for such questions are many and varied though it remains a fact that many women claim to love people that subject them to physical and even psychological pain and agony. If people assert and believe they love someone and that they are loved back, other people have no power to tell them otherwise. I do believe that Carver is trying to say that love is always stereotyped as a pleasant experience even as pain is a part of the emotion of love. Through Terri’s relationship, Carver makes out that love is not as simple as it is made out to be._x000D_
Just as Terri is coming from an abusive relationship, so is Mel her husband. Mel is divorced from Marjorie and they are not on talking terms given the circumstances of their estrangement. Since Marjorie has custody of the children and will not remarry, Mel believes she is doing this to spite and leech on him for child support. Mel asserts that he wishes she would remarry or else get stung to death by a swarm of bees since she is allergic to bees. It is clear that the two abhor each other even as Mel asserts that they were once upon a time very much in love. He says there was a time he believed he loved his first wife more than life itself though all that’s left now is a detestation of her guts. He struggles to find explanation for this turn of events by asking “what happened to that love? According to Mel’s argument, how is love a permanent thing how do you explain the high rates of failed marriages? Could it be that love is a temporary thing or a confusion of other feelings? Love may also be analyzed from the aspect of permanency even though when people fall in love, it is usually based on the attributes of the person loved. The problem with such a perspective is that human beings change and hence the aspect that sparked love may be extinguished. It is inevitable that Mel and Marjorie have undergone changes in their person since they married. Such changes may affect some of the qualities that resulted into feelings of love. In the same vein Terri’s relationship with the violent husband may have retained the qualities that made them fall in love in the first place and hence their love is not extinguished by other factors such as abuse._x000D_
To contrast the broken relationship stories of Terri and Mel, the author includes a story of an elderly couple that was involved in a motor accident. They were all bandaged up such that it was not possible for the husband to look at the wife and this drove him insane. What Carver has been trying to convey throughout the story is that love takes effort, pain, vulnerability and most of commitment which Carver believes is lacking in modern relationships. Through an analysis of these three relationships, Carver gives the reader pertinent questions on what love is. For instance, how can an abusive relationship be deemed a loving one? Conversely, an abused woman who claims to love their husband, is it possible to argue with such a person since they are the one who have knowledge of their true feelings? Another important question raised id if love lasts forever why the many instances of failed marriages and divorce? Is it possible to have love for a person and lose that feeling? For Carver, love is a permanent thing even as people are not. Love does not change in the same way that people do. By placing the story of the old couple last, Carver reinforces his idea of love as a permanent commitment which calls for work and pain that is worth it in the end.

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