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What We Talk About When We Talk About Love PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Author: Raymond Carver. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. Theme. The elusive nature of love and its inability to be defined. Plot Overview. Mel, Terri, Nick, and Laura are all friends in a mundane setting, talking about things they talk about when they talk about love.

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What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

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Author raymond carver

Author: Raymond Carver

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love



  • The elusive nature of love and its inability to be defined.

Plot overview

Plot Overview

  • Mel, Terri, Nick, and Laura are all friends in a mundane setting, talking about things they talk about when they talk about love.

  • The discussion about love begins about “destructive love” and Terri's ex-husband, Ed, and quickly degenerates into alcohol-influenced heavy discussion as the four characters (mainly Mel) articulate what love really means to them.

Plot overview continued

Plot Overview (continued)

  • As they continue to talk about love and tell stories that portray the different types of love, they continue to drink gin with only propels them to talk more and bring out their true feelings.

  • Mel gets so intoxicated with gin that he begins talking about killing his ex-wife whom he once loved. The story ends as the couples finish yet another bottle of gin.

  • None of the characters are able to clearly define love, despite being resolute on what it is.



  • “Well, Nick and I know what love is” -Laura

    • Laura is firm in her belief that she knows what love is, similar to the other characters, but cannot truly explain what love is.

  • “There was a time when I thought I loved my first wife more than life itself. But now I hate her guts. How do you explain that?” -Mel

    • Mel is unable to truly grasp on why love changes or how the emotion can disappear if one feels it so strongly.

More quotes

More Quotes

  • “He did love me though, Mel. Grant me that,” Terri said. “That’s all I’m asking.” – pg 172. The significance of this quote shows how love can be expressed through different means as Terri explains how Ed’s beatings were out of love.

  • “What do any of us really know about love?” Mel said. “It seems to me that we’re all just beginners at love.” – pg 176. This quote explains how there can never be one true definition that defines love because everyone has their own different perspectives and ways of showing it.



  • Mel McGinnis

    • A Cardiologist

    • Self-assured that he is an expert on love.

    • Asserts that destructive love is not true love and tries to convince Terri otherwise.

    • Is the most opinionated out of the four, but is just as clueless about what love really is.

    • Hypocritical in that he thinks Ed's love was too destructive but has no problems with wanting to kill his own first wife, despite loving her so much in the past.

What we talk about when we talk about love

  • Terri McGinnis

    • Resolute on her opinions: She truly believes that her ex-husband loved her, despite what Mel says otherwise.

    • Logical than the other characters: She is the only one that is able to articulate on what love means to her. Ex: Ed repeatedly tries to commit suicide after she leaves her, still continues to pursue her.



  • Drinking Alcohol

    • As the conversation about love progresses, all four characters consume more and more alcohol.

      • Just as their thoughts get more cloudy, so does their perceptions on what love really is.

    • The alcohol makes them more susceptible to talking about love, but their thoughts on love are just as incoherent as their speech is.

      • Mel continually babbles about love in a confused manner, both because of the alcohol and his unclear opinion on what love really is.

Chronology use of time

Chronology (Use of Time)

  • The beginning of the story starts out with the day still being young and the sun is bright out.

    • The discussion about love is light and friendly.

  • As the day progresses, the light begins to dim as the sun goes down.

    • The discussion about love turns heavy as they start to disagree on what love is. Everybody's perception of love is unclear and fades into uncertainty, just as the sun's light fades into darkness.



  • Sun- The sun in the story represents the loss of hope and happiness. The sun in the story is bright in the beginning and gone by the end. As the sun continues to diminish so does the characters hopeful perceptions about love.

  • Gin- The drinking of alcohol in this story symbolizes the confusion encountered when attempting to define love. The gin is used as a sort of ritual as they pass the bottle of gin around the table. The more they drink the more their perceptions about love become warped.



  • The author uses the image of a knights armor when expressing Mel’s wish to come back in a different life as a knight. The knights armor is described as being suffocating and stifling and causing the wearer to become tired and worn out. The image of a knights armor is usually seen as a sign of valor and strength but Carver’s description of the armor reveals it as being a weakening burden. This shows how love, an expression of warm passionate attachment, can turn into something sinister.

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