What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

by: Raymond Carver

Symbols

The Sun

The sun in the story, which is bright at the beginning and gone by the end, represents the loss of clarity and happiness as the friends grow increasingly confused about the meaning of love. At the beginning of the story, Nick notes that the kitchen is bright and compares the friends to giddy children who have “agreed on something forbidden.” The talk is light and hopeful, just a friendly conversation on a gin-soaked afternoon. However, as the conversation about love becomes increasingly dark and complex, the sun in the kitchen slips slowly away. Nick notes that the sun is “changing, getting thinner,” and, not long after, that the sun is “draining out of the room.” As the sun disappears completely, the conversation devolves into Mel’s drunken threats against his ex-wife, including a fantasy of murdering her. At the end of the story, the friends are sitting in complete darkness. The sun has gone, as have their rosy, hopeful perceptions of love.