What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

by: Raymond Carver

Terri

Although no one in “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” seems to have a firm idea of what love really is, Terri does have some extreme and somewhat disturbing opinions. One of the most detailed tales told around the table is of Terri’s former lover, Ed, who was terribly abusive and threatened both her and Mel. Mel is firm in his belief that Ed was crazy, but Terri insists that Ed truly loved her. She points out that Ed tried to kill himself by swallowing rat poison when she left him and, when that didn’t work, shot himself through the mouth. Although the others don’t share Terri’s ideas about love, she nevertheless has a more solid idea about love than anyone else in the story. While Mel talks of his hatred for his ex-wife and Nick and Laura merely touch each other softly, Terri is the only one who can genuinely say that she once experienced true love. Mel calls Terri a member of the “kick-me-so-I’ll-know-you-love-me school,” but no one in the story can articulate a view of love that is clearer or more convincing.