Study Guide

Nick in What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

By Raymond Carver


Newlywed Nick is our narrator. He mostly reports on the conversation and the amount of gin left in the bottle at any given moment. He is Mel's best friend and might be a lawyer, since he met his wife Laura, a legal secretary, "in a professional capacity" (30). And we know he and Laura were recently married. But in terms of personal details, that's about all we get.

More importantly, Nick never says how he feels about Terri or Mel's examples of real love. Yet, he does throw his own example into the mix. Through smiles, kisses, and asides to the reader, Nick shows us and tells us that he loves Laura, or at the very least, believes he does.

Nick's love for Laura is shown as steady, uncomplicated and drama free. We know this because he tells us straight up, "In addition to being in love, we like each other and enjoy one another's company. She's easy to be with." But we know from Terri and Mel's example that love is rarely, if ever, easy. We hate to be negative, but we have to ask: are these two headed for rougher waters? Can they really have such smooth sailing for the rest of their lives?

Nick the Stethoscope

As we discuss in "What's Up With the Ending?", the final lines of the story—in which Nick describes sitting in the quiet darkness, listening to "everyone's heart"—suggests… something. But what?

Maybe, because of all this talk about love, he feels closer to his wife than ever. Or maybe, after hearing about all the troubles Mel and Terri have gone through, he's a bit worried about the road ahead for his marriage.

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