Study Guide

The Old Couple in What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

By Raymond Carver

The Old Couple

Mel offers the story of this couple as his example of true love, and as a contrast to Terri's story of Ed's love for her:

I'd get up to his mouth-hole […] and he'd say no, it wasn't the accident exactly but it was because he couldn't see her through his eye-holes. He said that was what was making him feel so bad. Can you imagine? I'm telling you, the man's heart was breaking because he couldn't turn his goddamn head and see his goddamn wife. (75)

Uh, what's your point Mel?

His point is that the love the man feels for his wife goes beyond appearances. He wants to look at her because he loves her, no matter how she looks. It doesn't matter that she is old, or you know, mummified. He isn't satisfied just being near her. He wants to see her, whatever she looks like. And this, to Mel, is what we talk about when we talk about love. This old couple? They're the ideal—the example Mel holds up as the epitome of true love.

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