What we talk about when we talk about love by Carver explores the subject of love. Love is a word that one hears in everyday life. People talk about loving their parents, cars, pets, movies, books, ice scream, children, spouses and so forth. However, the love is different in each instance and the concept of love puzzles many people. In the contemporary pop culture, the word love has been over used and it is not easy to tell what the word actually means.
Love means different things to different people.
Nick and Laura is a couple who got married recently. They met in the course of their professional duties and have been married for eighteen months. The kind of love they exhibit is physical. It is the kind newly married couples express to each other and it seems that this is a remarkable period in their love life. They behave very affectionately towards each other “I touched the back of Laura’s hand. She gave me a quick smile.
I picked up Laura’s hand. It was warm, the nails polished, perfectly manicured. I encircled the broad wrist with my fingers, and I held her” (Carver 390). In return, Laura bumps her husband’s knee with hers to urge him to speak. On the contrary, they seem to have a hollow relationship, which Mel describes as virtual perfection. For instance, Nick says that they enjoy each other’s company and Laura is an easy woman to be with. Obviously, the couple are friends and lovers and this would be an ideal situation for any couple.
However, there is a bad ring to it because every thing that comes easy goes easy. The physical attraction is bound to end at some point in their relation then what?
Conversely, the old couple Mel describes has a kind of spiritual love. The old man is very disappointed because he is unable to see his wife due to the bandages on his face. The couple contrasts the couples in the kitchen who do not seem to have such kind of love that goes way beyond the physical. The kind of love the old couple has seems like it will last until death unlike for the couples sipping their gin who view it as something that can be disposed when no longer convenient.
There is the myth of eternal love.
In many romance movies and novels couples fall in love and live happily forever. However, the reality of the contemporary love is far from the concept of eternal love. People keep moving from one marriage to another. Each time they marry someone they claim they are in love. The Couples in the story are in their second marriages after the failure of their first ones. Each person claims to have loved his or her former spouse. For example, Mel says he once loved his first wife Marjorie maybe even more than his own life but now hates her and wishes if she would die.
He also says that if one of them was to die he was sure the other would remarry after mourning for a while. One then wonders what love is if today, you love somebody and tomorrow you loath them.
Terri was married to Ed, a barterer. He abused her physically and threatened to kill her for staying with Mel. Yet she claims that he loved her. According to her, the abuse Ed unleashed on her was a sign of love but her current husband disagrees and says that kind of love does not exist because love does not try to kill.
Ed seems to be dependent on Terri and feels very vulnerable when she is away hence his attempted suicide. The kind of love they had was unhealthy. When a person becomes too dependent on another and very possessive, the results can be disastrous and today, many homicides have been committed in the name of love. So what can we call the love that kills?
The two couples attempt to talk about love ends up in circles because they do not come to a consensus on what real love is. Each person has a different definition of love and this applies today.
For instance, some people endure domestic violence because they believe the bartering occurs due to love. In addition, many couples are in search of real love but it remains elusive as that of the couples who take gin that gives them a false sense of love. At the end, they are left hungering for something deeper than they have as they realize that the gin only gives them an illusion of love.
What we talk about when we talk about love. New York: Harvill Press, 1996.