Symbols are an essential part of daily life, since they help to express ideas without the need of a detailed explanation; traffic signs informing drivers without short paragraphs being posted in their place, facial gestures expressing feelings without having to describe them verbally, just to name a common couple. Likewise, symbols are a crucial part of a literary work, helping the author subtly incorporate concepts throughout the work. An author will deliberately incorporate a symbol into his or her literary work, which alone would mean nothing, but in context carries out a point the author is trying to make. "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" is a short story about four friends trying to find the true meaning of love, trying to prove points through experience. In "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love," Raymond Carver uses very strong symbolism to help convey the theme of the story.
Instantly, it is easy to recognize that Carver's story will be one on love, since the title clearly mentions it. He introduces the characters, two married couples, who are having a discussion about love over some gin and tonic. Throughout the story, they share different experiences and exchange arguments to prove those experiences to be exemplary of what love is or is not. However, they never come to an agreement or common understanding to what love is. That is what Carver is trying to express through his short story, that there is no clear definition on love.
In the story, the four main characters, Mel, Terri, Laura and Nick, are having a discussion about love while drinking gin. This is the first symbol Carver uses to express his opinion on love, how love and alcohol are very much alike. When people are in love, they are in a mental, physical, and emotional state which they can not understand, control, and much less explain. It makes them do things that are not typical of them and have new reactions to common experiences. Much like when in love, when people get...
Cited: Raymond Carver. "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love." Arguing Through Literature. Ed. Judith Ferster. New York: McGraw Hill, 2005. 762-771.
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