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Understanding the complexity of love


If you were asked to define love What would you say? It’s a bit tricky to answer right? The word love is often heard throughout everyday life. It’s used by couples, families, and friends to aid in connecting each other in some sort of way  In the short story entitled “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love“by Raymond Carter the reader investigates the subject of love. However, after reading the story, the main theme is revealed that the nature of love is subjective and difficult to clearly explain.This theme is exposed through the author’s use of dialogue and detailed imagery to convey the complexities and intricacies of love.  In the passage, the characters are in confusion over the clear explanation of love due to their different experiences with the emotion. All these different experiences shine the light on the idea that love is subjective and difficult to define.

The short story, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love revolves around four characters, the narrator Nick, his wife Laura, and his friend Mel and his second wife Terri. They are all at the character Mel’s house drinking and conversing. They somehow transition into speaking on Terri’s past love life with her crazy partner that hurt her psychologically. She somehow believes that even though all the psychological discomfort he brought to her that he loved her. Her reason for this was because of how much he “cared” and continued to seek her attention through threats and violence. This idea by the character brought confusion to the other characters. This opening part of the passage allows the reader to look into the idea of love and begin questioning the clear definition of what love is defined as. Carter created this story and put it, in the beginning, to get the readers reaction through the use of dialogue between the characters. To begin arousing the idea of the clear definition of love.

However, as the passage continues, we are revealed even more how the nature of love is subjective and quite hard to clearly explain. The different parts in the story used by the author like the dialogue and description of the events unfolding in the story help identity that the nature of love is elusive. From the passage, for example, “‘Well, Nick and I know what love is,’ Laura said. ‘For us, I mean,’ Laura said. She bumped my knee with her knee. ‘You’re supposed to say something now,’ Laura said, and turned her smile on me. For an answer, I took Laura’s hand and raised it to my lips. I made a big production out of kissing her hand. Everyone was amused.  ‘We’re lucky,’ I said.” (175).It is relevant to note that the character Nick is stunned and speechless to bring a definition to the word of love. Clearly, his actions within the excerpt of proceeding to kiss his wife’s hand and saying “We’re Lucky” instead of producing an actual definition illustrate that it is hard to define love. Moreover, through the dialogue of the characters, the reader understands that the characters are confused with providing an actual definition.  This is enhanced even further with the author’s descriptive details on what the character did in the midst of trying to figure out an answer to the question. Another key factor Carter added is the physical version of love conveyed by the couple. They revealed their love through physical touch and connection while Terri revealed her definition of love through her psychotic ex-boyfriend’s obsession with her.  Clearly revealing that the term love is subjective based on the individual.

Additionally, as the short story continued the final example used to highlight how the use of dialogue between characters and the imagery created by the author help aid the creation of the main theme. And I quote

“He said that was what was making him feel so bad. Can you imagine? I’m telling you; the man’s heart was breaking because he couldn’t turn his god damn head and see his goddamn wife.” Mel looked around the table and shook his head at what he was going to say. “I mean, it was killing the old fart just because he couldn’t look at the fucking woman.” We all looked at Mel. ”Do you see what I’m saying?” he said. (183).”

This piece from the short story is a personal example brought up by the character Mel. He was speaking on a personal story he experienced at his workplace that brought to him confusion and sadness. This elderly couple that got into a car accident and surprisingly survived, had nothing to be sad about in the eyes of the character. However, as the above example shows, the husband was sad about not being able to see his wife, everything was going to be okay, they just needed to rest and then he would be able to see her but he was heartbroken not being able to be with his wife. This example created by the author reveals once again that love is quite difficult to understand. Through the description created by the character it helped create a sense of confusion into the reader because it allows us the wonder what type of love that is?  In the example, the confused tone of the character illustrates the confusion that is brought with trying to understand the old couple and more importantly trying to understand the true nature of love. Furthermore, the words used by the character and the clear frustration and confusion presented with that example show his personal perspective of love. Carter created different situations based on the different characters but their ideas on love and the way they conveyed love through their stories are the real ways the author revealed his true intension of informing us how subjective love is.

The idea of love has been used to describe many individuals’ relationships with each other. Through the story, however, it is revealed by the author of the short story that the word love is subjective and difficult to give a clear explanation. This main idea is revealed through his descriptive imagery within the short story but also the dialogue of the characters. The examples provided by the characters and their confusion on the topic of love and the way they explained their personal belief on love and how they though it was demonstrated. Prove that the word love is subjective and the term cannot be properly defined by an individual.

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