What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
by Raymond Carver
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love Theme of Language and Communication
In a story with an awful lot of chatting, nothing much actually gets said in "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love." Sure, we've got the stock and standard kissing, holding hands, saying "I love you." All of these are ways in which our characters use the language of love to communicate their affections. But somehow, this language all seems inadequate as the darkness falls on the two couples and the gin slowly disappears. At the end of the day, words fall short of defining love, and our characters struggle to say just what they mean, if they even know what they mean in the first place.
Questions About Language and Communication
- How do Nick and Laura communicate their love to each other? Is it true love, or just physical affection? And how does this communication compare to that which goes on between Terri and Mel?
- How does Mel communicate his dislike for his ex-wife Marjorie?
- Are Mel and Terri bickering or fighting? Will this night weaken or strengthen their relationship?
- How might alcohol influence this conversation about love?
Chew on This
Just as the couples are learning about love, they are learning to communicate. The story argues that success in love comes from learning to communicate love in a healthy way, which is a whole lot harder than it looks.
Mel and Terri communicate in an unhealthy way in this story, which means that there are rough waters ahead in their marriage.