The Phenomenon of Love in “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”

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In Raymond Carver’s short story, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” we are shown how difficult it can be to explain what love is and how people can have many different definitions of the true meaning. The theme of the story, how difficult it is to explain love, and the motif and word choices used help us understand that love may not have a definitive meaning that you can put into words, but instead a definition that is on the inside that may be different for everyone. The word choice and other dialogue used between Mel and Terri McGinnis shows just how difficult it can be to explain, even to the person that you say that you love, exactly what love means. Mel talks significantly more than any of the others, yet he doesn’t really know more about the subject than them. When Mel talks about love, due to the words he uses and how he uses them, he gives off a sense that he has a solid idea of what love, even though he’s not really any closer than everyone else. Later on, as he begins to get drunk, it seems as if he is less and less sure of what he thinks it means. The words that Terri uses make it feel as if she thinks she knows what love means, but she wants to have to others agree with her even though her idea that the situation she was in with her abusive ex, Ed, is not something most people would consider to be love. She is persistent on what she feels her relationship really was even though what she says happened between here and Ed does not show love. It seems as though it is significantly easier, especially for Mel, to say what love is not rather than what it is. That theme ties to another theme that Carver conveys which is how inadequate language is at explaining emotion and other abstract things. As Mel tells his stories it shows how much trouble he is having at saying what he wants to convey to the others. Even though the others may not fully agree

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