What\'s Love Got To Do With It; Everything!

Tuesday, October 21, 1997
Jason M. Schwefel
Dr. Andrea Musher
Tuesdays and Thursday 12:30 - 1:45 PM
Literary essay
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
By: Raymond Carver

An excerpt from Readers Digest August, 1997, submitted to Laughter, the Best
Medicine, by Adam Christing.

A lot of people wonder how you know if you really in love, says comedian Ronnie
Shakes. Just ask yourself one question: Would I mind being financially ruined by
this person?

If you really look at this statement, it is invariably the truth. When it comes
to love, money makes no matter, be it past, present or future. Love is love, and
nothing can stand in its way.

In the following pages I will be discussing Raymond Carvers short story,
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. It is a story that explores all
types of love, jealous, brutal, physical and spiritual. Written in 1981, it is
very contemporary in its style and its meaning can be applied easily to everyday

Only love that is true in your heart is love, the rest are other
emotions sublimated into love. With this in mind, we should look at people
around us, people who are in love. Ask to yourself, Why are they in love?  Then,
ask yourself, How are they in love? It may be surprising, but the answers to
these questions can be surpassingly different. Only when they are the same will
the love be true.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, is set in a house somewhere
in Albuquerque NM, some time in the afternoon or early evening, and going into
night. As previously stated, the story was written in 1981, and it appears to
set in the same time. Two couples are sitting around the kitchen table, drinking
gin, and talking, talking about love and the many forms it takes. Teresa (Terri)
gives a detailed description of a brutal love she had with her ex-boyfriend, and
how he beat her. Mel, Terris husband, gives us his feeling for his ex-wife, and
how he loves his kids, that she has custody of. Jealousy, is the love he has for
her, she has his children, and he wishes her dead, so he could have custody.
Finally, the love they all agree as the universally truest love, the spiritual
love, is shown by an elderly couple involved in a bad accident. Both of them
refuse to die, until they can be assured the other will be all right.

In the very beginning of the story, the two couples are sitting around
drinking and talking. As their conversation goes on it develops into one of love.
This passage marks the first of several types of love, and gives us an intuitive
view into the psyche of Terri.

Then Terri said, He beat me up one night. He dragged me around the
living room by my ankles. He kept saying, I love you, I love you, you bitch. He
went on dragging me around the living room. My head kept on knocking on things.
Terri looked around the table, What do you do with love like that.

The abusive relationship, is a very common type of love. This is the
love that is primary brought on against women. They stay in a relationship with
a man, even though he constantly beats her. Some stay out of fear, but many
truly love the person and are not masochistic. The reasons for this are
numerous: The woman truly loves the guy, and hopes he will change. She knows
that he loves her and is unable to show it in another way. The fear of being

All of these are common reason for tolerating an abusive relationship,
and none are bad reasons in themselves, but when physical violence is coupled
with them, a dangerous, and most likely a repeating, situation is developed.
Women who are involved in abusive relationships, typically are always involved
in them, be it emotional, physical or mental abuse, the cycle continues. Terri,
is now involved in another abusive relationship, not physical, bur mental with

Jealousy, a feeling so evil two of the Ten Commandments expressly forbid
it. As we look at Mel, a cardiologist, a person whos job it is to save lives,
desires to have his ex-wife dead. Towards the end of the story Mel gives his
feeling on his ex-wife, and his kids.

I think I want to call my kids, Mel said ... Terri said,