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"What we talk about when we talk about love" is a short story in a collection of short stories by the renowned American author Raymond Carver going by the same title "What we talk about when we talk about love".
It is a story about four people namely; Mel, Terri (Teresa), Laura and Nick. In the story, Nick is also the narrator. They are in Mel's house at a round table and in the middle is a bucket of ice. They are sipping a bottle of gin which is dipped in the bucket of ice as they chat about and relax after a definitely long day. No sooner have they started chatting about general happenings of the than they start talking about love (precisely so as the title suggests).Mel is divorced and married to Terri, who also happens to be a divorcee. They have been married for a good four years and have known each other for five years. Laura and Nick are just married and have been together for a straight eighteen months that is for one and a half years.
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Terri has had an abusive relationship with her ex husband(Ed), the abuse, deriving from love. Apparently, Ed loves Terri so much that he often abused her. Even long after they were divorced he continually kept on threatening both Terri and Mel. They were genuinely scared of Terri's ex husband. Love is an art in that it is a show of emotions from one person to another, mostly between two people or two beings. The big question stands 'is abuse a show of love or not?'Terri was abused yet she still hangs on until she eventually decided to let go. Much as her ex husband insisted that it was love, she still left him. This is because much as Ed, her ex husband tried to show his love, to her it was not good enough. This is so because art can either be good art or bad art. This was bad art because it did not please the audience or the recipient who in this case was Terri.
Eventually, we see that Terri's ex husband commits suicide after two attempts .In the first instant he took rat's poison but fortunately or unfortunately survived. In the second attempt he shot himself but a neighbor overheard the gunshot and called for an ambulance. He was rushed to the hospital but he passed away after three days and Terri was by his side(and as Terri sees it is another show of love).This is another form of art which leads to loss of life with the intention of acting as a form of communication to show his immense love. This is a bad art. This also explains how love is a form of art. Art usually communicates the emotions of one person to another in a clear manner (Leo 36).
The two married couples are in a big way different depending on how long they have been together. Art is repetitive not unless there are many innovations. If not, it over time becomes boring and the audience will eventually become disinterested and therefore become preoccupied and will more often than not tend to escape or run away. This is the case displayed by the marriage between Terri and Mel. They have been married for a long four years and are over time are becoming bored and are drifting to other things. This may also explain their previous divorces with Ed and Marjorie respectively. We are told about how often Mel pictured himself murdering his first wife yet she is the mother of his children. It is such immense dislike because he even refuses to dial her number so as to be able to talk to his kids for the mere impression that when he calls she will answer the phone.
He had probably grown fond of her too much that he had rather seen her dead. This however, is not the case with the just married couple, Laura and Nick. Through their (Laura and Nick) gestures and interactions with one another throughout the evening there is still the early glow of love sparkling in everything they do. The way Nick holds Laura's hand is a display of affection. Evidently their behavior towards one another is affectionate and respectful. Their art is still very captivating. This so far is good art. So does real love exist? Mel is a cardiologist by profession. During the evening, he recounts the story of an old couple who were involved in a huge car accident. The young man who rammed into the car of the old couple did not survive the accident. He was the cause of the accident as he was drunk yet he was driving. The old couple survived because they had fastened their seat belts. They were both badly hurt but the husband's recuperating rate was faster than that of the wife. They were both in full body casts. The old man was depressed because he could not see his wife through the eyeholes of his cast. Mel could not believe that the old man was depressed because he could not see his wife. He argued that, that was real love. He asked each and every one of them whether they were able to see his point of view. He however argued that this kind of love only existed as long as the both parties involved were still alive. This is because as soon as one of them was no more the other sought refuge in the arms of someone else. Then they would claim to be in love with that other person. So begs the question is love real? Since love is art with time the repetitiveness of love, which is art makes it routine and boring. That means it depends on our way of looking at it. It is very subjective (Raymond 105).
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As the evening wears on, they are all getting drunk and the light that is penetrating into the room is slowly dwindling away. Terri says that Mel is depressed and that he should take a pill but he says he has taken everything possible already (which in this case is the gin they all have been sipping the entire evening). Mel says they should go out to some place may be to a restaurant for dinner but Nick says they should go on having some drinks as they have been doing the entire evening. Laura says that she is starving and Terri offers to serve a snack but she just sits in her seat. Mel notices that the gin is gone and Terri asks what they should now do next. Nick says that he can hear everyone's heart beating. The four very good friends just sit in their seats until the room is completely dark.
Alcoholism seems to have taken the better part of every person in the room and no one is talking about love anymore. Throughout their discussion, it is well displayed that love is a form of art. Art is a form of communication and love definitely convenes information about our feelings about other people or things. Therefore, love is a definite form of art.