What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

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"What We Talk About When We Talk About Love"

Raymond Carver's style seems to be "less is more," and so, his stories often have a simple central theme that holds them together, and the characters are quite realistic, just as in "What we Talk About When we Talk About Love," this short story, the four characters are quite different from each other, and yet, the central theme of love binds them all together, yet keeps them somehow distanced from each other.

Although we can't easily define love or always understand love, these four characters agree that we know it when we see it (or feel it). The story calls to mind just a few of the many forms of love--romantic, intellectual, sensual, and spiritual--and poses a perplexing question: Which kind of love is the most genuine? Mel McGinnis, the emotionally scarred surgeon, is an intriguing character. This doctor may be a master of cardiac anatomy, but he is no expert on matters of the heart. Mel, for his part, presents the story's central question -- what is love -- because like the rest of the group he is imbued with a sense of loss, of regret, of unutterable sadness, for reasons he can not quite describe. He feels instinctively that it has something to do with love, and he's right in a way; it has everything to do with passion. In his mind he has the perfect picture of love just like the story he told the other three characters of the old couple that no matter what situation were in just wanted to be there for each other and stand by each other forever. For Mel that IS real love being able to show and have that sort of affection for your significant other. Mel is an angry character because he has been married twice and figures he did love his first wife and does love his current wife but he doesn't feel that he has discovered and felt the kind of love he wants.

Mel's wife, Terri, on the other hand, insists that it was. She has led a much less sheltered life and is also much less self-righteous than Mel; she...
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