What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

by: Raymond Carver

Nick

Characters Nick

Nick, the narrator of the story, doesn’t say much, but the observations and physical movements he makes are key to revealing what love means to the four friends gathered at the table. Nick speaks up only four times during most of the conversation, twice to ask questions, once to suggest that love is absolute, and finally to say that he and Laura are lucky. At the end of the story, however, his own words begin sounding as jumbled as Mel’s, such as when he suggests that they either eat or keep drinking and when he makes a joke about heading “right on out into the sunset.” None of Nick’s comments are especially revelatory; more significant are the things he doesn’t say out loud. For example, his narration includes comments on the weakening sunlight in the room, an observation that reveals how muddled the friends’ ideas of love eventually become. He also touches Laura a great deal, holding and kissing her hand and touching her leg under the table. These are genuinely affectionate gestures and suggest that even though the friends may talk about love all night, their words don’t really matter in the end. Finally, Nick is the only one who can “hear everyone’s heart,” which suggests that he may have insight into love that the others do not.