In the story made of Raymond Carver “Are These Actual Miles” is about a middle-aged man and woman, who are in some sort of a domestic partnership, struggle to reconcile their decaying personal lives as they navigate bankruptcy. Toni, who came into the relationship with children, and Leo, who had no children of his own, had a comfortable consumerist life that now seems to be in disrepair. They liquidated their personal belongings that not had been reclaimed by credit agencies and now must sell their car—their last item of monetary value. Knowing that seductive tactics will yield best payment, Toni fixes herself up and goes to sell the car. The two characters successfully avoid the unwholesome possibilities in this transaction will likely demand, and through the course of a single night, they must come to terms with the state of their lives. Toni assures Leo she will “get out of it” but ends up staying out all night and getting drunk with the car salesman. Toni confronts her sickness towards Leo, and the cars salesman becomes an escape from her life for the night. Leo falls apart at home alone, drinking scotch and whiskey, and realizes how vulnerable he is to the possibility that Toni will abandon him for something better.
Carver is a minimalist and condenses a lot of meeting into short, percussive sentences. At first these seem to contain trivial bits of information. The sentences have a cumulative effect, and they begin to convey really powerful insights of the characters in their series of short and simple words.
Leo’s sending of the children to his mother may be significant as again it plays on the theme of appearance. It is more important to Leo that his children don’t know the truth, that in reality his marriage to Toni appears to be based solely on materialism. However the most noticeable incident with regard to appearance is when Toni tells Leo that the salesman would rather be ‘classified a robber or a rapist than a bankrupt.’ This